Sat | Nov 17, 2018

Teachers in Guyana continue strike as new school term begins

Published:Monday | September 3, 2018 | 2:26 PM
Teachers in Guyana protest outside the Ministry of Education - CMC photo

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – A new school term began on Monday with teachers staying away from the classrooms in support of the demands of the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) for a 40 per cent salary increase.

Teachers picketed outside the Ministry of Education even as the government issued a statement indicating that schools across the country opened today after the summer holidays and that “students and teachers alike head back to classrooms to begin a new school year”

The statement sought to give the impression that parents were satisfied with the situation and that in some instances they were seen giving their children “reassuring hugs and words of encouragement”.

“Despite the inclement weather, early reports from Region Six indicate full turn out of teachers and students at Kildonden Primary School and other schools along the Corentyne Coast. In Region Three teachers have shown up and there was a full turn out at Patentia, West Demerara, and Vreed-en-Hoop Secondary Schools, as well as several Nursery schools.”

But, the statement noted that some schools were closed in Region 10 as teachers assembled “in front of the Ministry of Education’s Region 10 Department for industrial action”.

The statement said that senior officers within the Ministry are visiting schools in an effort to ascertain the impact, if any, of the planned strike action by the GTU.

GTU general secretary, Coretta McDonald, was quoted by the Guyana-based on line publication, News Source, as saying that the union is standing firm to its position and that on Tuesday, teachers should take a day off from the picket line and stay home and then return to the protest line for the remaining days of the week.

Last week, President David Granger described as “an unhappy resort” the decision to have retired and student teachers to take over classrooms in the country abandoned by teachers.

“We would prefer to have the regular teachers in the classrooms….this is an unhappy resort but it is the only way we could ensure that our students receive continuous education, more so those who are preparing for exams next year, we would prefer to have unbroken schooling for them," he said.

The government has said it is offering GUY$700 million to cover across the board increases and GUY$200 million to cover debunching.

The GTU said it is still pressing its demand for a 40 per cent wage hike for teachers.

The teachers began their industrial action last Monday ahead of this week’s formal opening of the new school term.

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