President Dr Irfaan Ali has addressed the ongoing teachers’ strike, reminding teachers as well as other categories of public servants that the government has a plan to ensure they benefit from the best welfare package in the entire region.
The teachers’ strike, led by the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU), has entered in day five. The teachers are calling for better salaries, though admitting that non-salary issues are being addressed by the government.
But the Head of State reminded that he has already met with teachers and outlined the government’s plan to improve their livelihoods. In this regard, he urged them to be patient.
“We are committed to giving you the best life possible,” President Ali assured, noting that there is no need to politicise this matter.
He explained that more benefits are coming teachers’ way, in an incremental manner, stressing that “it takes time”.
As such, the President contended that there is no need to strike.
“You don’t need to ‘down tools’ because you are pushing at open doors. You have to have patience,” he said.
Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has already calculated that at the end of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government’s first term in office, graduate teachers would have benefited from salary increases amounting to nearly 50 per cent.
Moreover, Chief Education Officer Saddam Hussain has outlined that the Education Ministry has taken several actions to simplify the teaching process, while reducing the burdens of being a teacher.
These interventions are:
- The removal of the Child Development Index Card (CDIC) as a required school document.
- The removal of the General Scheme of Work as a curriculum document.
- The weekly preparation of lesson plans rather than daily.
- All trained teachers being eligible to be a Senior Assistant Master/Mistress after 6 years rather than 7.
- 50 duty free teachers per year PLUS the granting of a duty-free concession to all senior teachers who have 3 years left to serve and have not received a concession previously.
- All teachers being provided termly with grants to purchase teaching materials.
- All CPCE pre-service trainees being paid $90 000 rather than a $10 000 stipend per month except a trainee teacher refuses same.
- The Ministry of Education requested the Teaching Service Commission and the School Board Secretariat to do 2 senior promotion cycles per year so that more teachers can be promoted and earn a higher salary.
- A general waiver letter to allow teachers to travel abroad without collateral.
- The issuance of one waiver letter to cover the teacher’s contracted period.
- The holders of the Technical Teachers’ Certificate as being appointed as Assistant Master/Mistress.
- The creation of more senior vacancies in nursery, primary and secondary schools.
- The reduction in teaching periods for secondary teachers.
- The assignment of an assistant teacher to senior teachers in primary and nursery schools.
- The appointment of floating teachers to schools to reduce the workload and substitute for teachers who are absent.
- The implementation of the EMIS system which will eliminate most aspects of manual record keeping.
- An Open Day policy which is held centrally and regionally to address teachers’ concerns.
- The appointment and upgrade of all teachers who attended UG without official release and permission before, during and after the COVID – 19 pandemic.
- A reduction in the number of teaching practice for CPCE teachers.
- The institution of a digitalized senior promotion process.
- A simplification in the Teacher Upgrade Process after improved qualifications.
- The substitution of the head teachers’ monthly report with a reduced digital version.
- A waiver for the issuance of the permanent trained teachers’ certificate.
- The placement of guidance and counselling officers in secondary schools to assist with the disruptive behaviour of students.
- The continuous placement of a data entry clerks in each school to assist with digital record keeping.
- The removal of the quota system to attend UG.
- The introduction of a Teacher Support Unit within the Ministry of Education.