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As teachers we have completed the entire cycle of 2022 without the kind of recognition that we were anticipating from the government who shouts about being Caring!
We, the moulders of the nation’s minds, have been battered, bruised, stretched out, rolled around and about, not only with the challenges of COVID-19, flooding, overcrowded classrooms, high cost of living, abusive parents and children with behavioural challenges, but by an administration who has failed to honour our plea for discussions on a proposal that was submitted in 2020, resubmitted in 2021 and again in 2022, which in our minds would have brought that cushioning support for the hardship our teachers across the length and breadth of this country continue to face.
The proposal submitted to the government doesn’t only cater for salary increases but speaks to a wide range of non-salaried issues that could ensure teachers’ working conditions and standard of living are consistent with 21st century teaching modalities and an oil and gas economy. Unfortunately, these calls and pleas were ignored by President Irfaan Ali.
On the other hand, however, we have seen other categories of workers receiving salary increases, incentives and relief, which begs the question- What crime have teachers committed that warrants this kind of disrespectful treatment? Secondly, what measuring stick was used that would have caused teachers to be disqualified from receiving similar monetary benefits? Is this what President Ali’s “one Guyana” means- only one set of people?
Colleagues, this act of willful bypass is unforgivable and should be met with a deserving response from us because we deserve to be treated with respect.
One could only conclude that this government is heartless, crude, spiteful and shameless. For it is this very government, whose officials have been standing at fora taking praises and making glorious speeches at our expense…… Such as, “Guyana tops at CSEC and CAPE.” Our students’ successes came at great sacrifice to them, their family and teachers and we must own these successes not have the government claim them.
In spite of government’s abuses and disrespect, Guyana’s educators continue to be diligent, dedicated and committed to the tasks we signed onto which saw our learners performing exceedingly well at the National Grade Six Assessment Examinations (NGSA), CSEC and CAPE. Instructively, in spite of our hard work teachers have seen no financial or other reward from their employer.
Teachers continue to go above and beyond. As a resilient professional group, teachers have over the years proven their commitment to our learners and that we will not fail even when assailed by uncaring government. That being said, as educators we deserve better in every way, and we must never settle for less.
The latest distribution of duty free vehicles was a mess, scholarship the same; the housing revolving fund has been a no start; reduction in class sizes still to be materialised in many regions; Whitley Council Leave approval and the payment of the allowances still dancing around; conditions of schools where we have to spend more than five hours leave much to be desired.
Billions of our taxpayer dollars are being spent uselessly for ministers, their families, friends and favourites to galavant. Guyana is being touted as the ‘new Dubai of the Caribbean with the fastest growing economy in the world.’ If this is true, then why are the salaries of teachers not a reflection of this reality or close to what our colleagues in other Caribbean territories are earning?
I’m just mentioning these as a reminder of the many challenges teachers have had to live with and to say if we don’t swim together, then we will continue to be dealt the blows that have been coming our way. We must take a stand against this abuse and demand an end to across the board push down increases, increase our calls for collective bargaining, consultations, inclusion and swift action which will see us be able to enjoy a comfortable and rewarding life for the sacrifices we make.
We have waited, we read, we heard. We saw the injustice. So it is time for us to roll up our sleeves, tie up those shoelaces and rally around the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) with resolve to champion and advance our cause. We can no longer sit back and be content with the crumbs as salary increases that have been thrown at us while high inflation is causing us to spend much, much more for less.
Teachers, we must dust ourselves off and stand ready to charge the haughty enemy, called the Government of Guyana, that continues to deprive and deny us the just reward of our labour and to work in an environment conducive to learning.
As I urge you to remain mobilised, the opportunity is taken to extend best wishes to you and family for a rewarding year filled with success, and for us as a GTU family, a year filled with cheers of greatness, continued resilience and strength that depicts Unity, Love and Respect.
Happy New Year!
God bless you.
Coretta Mc Donald AA, MP