Feb 12, 2024 Editorial
Kaieteur News – It is often said that great leaders and managers are forged in times of crisis. Crisis situations provide unique opportunities for growth, development, and learning. Sadly, this cannot be said of the current Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, who has lurched from crisis to crisis since taking up the portfolio.
Having served in the sector for several years and now a second term- one would have thought she would have used the opportunity to forge a better relationship with the teachers across the country. Instead, the minister is all about facebook propaganda and bluster.
The current teachers’ strike is probably the third under her watch. It must be of some concern to the young minister, that her tenure has been punctuated with industrial actions by teachers. And if that were not enough- the general management of the school system leaves much to be desired with daily violence among students, parents attacking teachers and the death of 20 students at a school dormitory. Any self-respecting minister in such circumstances would have by now handed in their resignation. But that doesn’t happen in PPP/C Cabinet as even alleged rapists have to be hounded out of office, rather than stepping down.
In the middle of a crisis, where most of the schools are closed, hundreds of teachers are on the streets, the education minister is busy every day on facebook gaslighting the situation, posting pictures of her playing volleyball with school children; fighting with citizens in the comments section; responding to comments on how poorly she has been managing the sector and even making the people she supposed to be leading her enemies.
When one listens to some of the chants by the striking teachers, one gets the real sense that our educators have no confidence, respect and tolerance for the minister in charge of them. It must worry the President that he has someone manning the all-important portfolio of education who does not command the respect of her charges. Her conduct in this entire industrial action is perhaps one of the reasons why so many teachers have decided to down tools. Not even the usually caustic Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo has been more insensitive to the plight of teachers as does the minister herself.
As we have said here before it must have taken considerable amount of anxiety to push teachers to the action of broadcasting their woes in public as they did last week. The teachers’ protest countrywide has to do with the usual concerns-pay, past monies due, and commitments not honoured. The core of their concerns is that they are having great difficulty living with dignity. Their placards and words tell their story. “Everything has increased except teachers’ wages and salaries”. There is a certain solidity to that claim because it has been the cry of other workers in other sectors across Guyana. Guyanese are feeling considerable pain, and it is a crying shame that so many cannot buy the basics when they are dubbed as the richest people on the planet by experts. The pain of teachers is real, and not imagined or pretended. When the wages and salaries of Guyanese teachers are compared against those of their peers across the region, they come across as paltry and pathetic. The fact that Guyana now floats on a huge lake of oil only serves to emphasize that the conditions of teachers and other workers across Guyana just should not be where they are. This country has too much going for it currently, and there is the risk that the gaudy economic numbers only enable a few to prosper, while many are left in the ranks of what can only be described as the pauperized in the reality of their hard existence.
It is an insult when a trained teacher, after years of study, is paid a starting monthly salary of just over $100,000. After all that effort and all that application to what is believed to be more than a career, something that is very much a calling, there is this monthly salary that is so close to the national minimum wage. As Guyanese have been made jarringly familiar by now, $100,000 a month cannot cover the basics of living, with fixed commitments, such as mortgage or rent, and the prices of food and other essentials ever rising.
This is why teachers are forced to do second jobs to make ends meet as we reported in our Sunday edition to have a little something more to share with their families, and to live with some level of self-respect. Naturally, since they are forced by circumstances to engage in extra wage-earning activity outside the classroom, this begs the question about how much focus and energy they are able to bring to bear to their daytime classroom duties. But this reality has certainly eluded the minister and her government that continue to argue that teachers are better off today than they were in years gone by.
Everything that comes out of Jagdeo’s mouth is aimed at confusing this nation.
Feb 28, 2024– Surinamese pugilists to ignite two-night event Kaieteur News – The Guyana Boxing Association (GBA) Developmental Championship will commence this evening at the National Gymnasium,...
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – When the Foreign Ministers of the world’s wealthiest nations gathered in Brazil... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.