Govt strips GTU of powers to award scholarships, concessions

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…claims teachers complained of mismanagement

The Ministry of Education has taken the responsibility from the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) to offer annual scholarships and concessions from the Government to teachers because of complaints received of mismanagement.

According to the Ministry on Tuesday, the facility was established with the GTU to offer 50 scholarships and 100 duty-free concessions to teachers as an additional benefit for excellent service to the educational system.

While the awarding of these benefits to teachers was managed by the GTU, the Ministry stated that it continues to receive complaints from serving teachers regarding the allocation of the benefits.

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“Lately, the complaints have elevated from the mismanagement of the system by the Union to the benefits being used as weapons to threaten teachers to participate in activities organized by the GTU, failing which, members are informed openly and subtly that they will not be a recipient or continuing recipient of a scholarship nor of a duty- free concession,” the Ministry of Education stated, adding:

“These reports have come from teachers who are duly qualified to receive these benefits. These reports cannot be ignored. These benefits were meant to serve teachers. Not to attack them. Not to discriminate against them. The Government of Guyana is hereby reverting these two programs to the Ministry of Education.”

From henceforth, it has been decided that, while the benefits will continue, the Ministry of Education will manage this program as obtains in other Government agencies with similar benefits. Teachers will be able to access the scholarships and duty-free concessions at the stated amount per year.

Under the slogan “Boots on the ground,” hundreds of teachers from September 15-17 and on September 14, protested the new COVID-19 Emergency Measures, which require all citizens including teachers to show proof of vaccination or negative PCR tests to gain access public buildings including schools. The teachers also protested the ministry over its failure to meet a number of financial agreements signed in 2018.

During a virtual meeting on Sunday attended by over 1000 teachers, the GTU extended an olive branch to the Ministry of Education, with its President Mark Lyte expressing a willingness to meet to discuss the issues affecting teachers.

However, he warned that failure to reverse the COVID-19 vaccination requirement and meet financial obligations would result in continued protest action.

Meanwhile, at the various protests, much criticism has come to Minister of Education Priya Manickchand. A song has also been created and shared on social media that doesn’t paint the Minister in a good light.

In a statement on Tuesday, Prime Minister Mark Phillips condemned the song’s disrespectful message calling on leaders and members of the public to respect the work the Education Minister has put into managing the education of the nation’s children.
“I unequivocally condemn this unconscionable attempt to sully the good character of Minister Manickchand, particularly when the Minister has tirelessly been working to curtail learning loss and ensure that our children are educated in a safe environment amidst the difficulties posed by the pandemic,” he said.

“We must not allow toxic behaviours to influence us. Let us all take up the responsibility of creating a nation built on respect for our fellow citizens, for it is only through mutual respect that we can achieve the unity towards which we all strive.”



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