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Not even in a People’s Progressive Party (PPP) delusional world, would one argue, that our teachers on monthly pittance, aren’t in a paycheque-to-paycheque, cost-of-living struggle. For the struggle is very real, recognised by Guyana Teachers Union (GTU), hence called on the installed PPP Government, to amicably negotiate better remuneration and working conditions. But the bastardised PPP, rather than engaging the Union in good faith, arrogantly dismissed the teachers’ concerns. And this being an insulting spat in the faces of our teachers, meant GTU was forced to take their grievances, to the picket line.
For this spat in the face has to be the epitome of eye pass, denying our teachers a liveable wage, whilst sparing no effort in paying their installed Ministers, millions of dollars in salaries and benefits. Even as, they openly flaunt, their installed Ministers being chauffeured, in multi-million-dollar SUVs. As a matter of fact, this very PPP which claims that the treasury cannot afford a liveable wage for our teachers, found another $6 billion, to invest in the Sugar Industry. But the fact is, the Sugar Industry, which has been absorbing billions like a dry sponge, has shown zero evidence of a turnaround from decades of economic losses.
Having said that, our highly qualified teachers, entrusted with educating the nation’s children, are living paycheque-to-paycheque. Which means, a multitude are rushing to the exits, explanatory to the failing Education Sector, and the resultant poor academic performance. Where this failing is no more evident, than with the astounding failure rates in functional literacy, standing at a record low of 40%.
Further, reflecting the dire straits of our Education Sector, is the shocking English pass rate of 45%, at the Secondary level, whilst the critically important Maths, stands at a tragic 37%. Thus, of these depressing statistics, also reflected at the Primary Levels, evidenced that more than 50% of our children cannot read, even as a similar percentage are failing in Maths and English. For these statistics are concerning, since in Reading, Maths and English, we have the core subjects, upon which all other subjects are taught. And it’s for these reasons, our heroic teachers are fighting for better learning conditions for our children, even as the installed PPP plays politics with Union fees.
Then compounding these painful statistics, is the PAHO report, highlighting that we have one of the highest childhood malnutrition rates, in Latin America and the Caribbean. The fact is, children’s nutritional needs, as articulated by Maslow, must be satisfied, if they are to ascend the hierarchy in learning. Therefore, it’s unsurprising, our children’s poor academic performances, considering our state of childhood malnutrition.
Thus, informed by the evidence, under this elitist PPP, the Education Sector is failing at every level. For they are failing to provide our teachers a liveable wage, which means it’s a struggle to provide three square meals, even as Priya Manickchand flaunts Louis Vuitton handbags. In fact, our teachers’ wages are so meagre, the vast majority can’t reach the basic level, of homeownership. As a matter of fact, unlike their Caribbean compatriots, they are without personal transportation, therefore it’s a real struggle to find their way to the PPP shanty classrooms. Then even with their meagre and slaved remuneration, our teachers are forced to purchase classroom teaching aids. Thus, when this is compared with the wastage on the barren Sugar Industry, the conclusion is unambiguous; educating our children isn’t PPP priority.
And it’s for these reasons, our children’s failure, disastrously evident in our Indigenous communities, is nothing short of a national catastrophe. Nonetheless, despite this national tragedy of more than 50% of our children failing Reading, Maths and English, PPP is steadfastly focused, on school infrastructure development, to provide millions in contracts, for their friends, families and favourites. Thus, once again the unambiguous conclusion, the education of our children, isn’t a PPP priority.
For if PPP had considered our children’s education paramount, they would’ve given precedence to thereunder.
1. Invest in teaching technology eg, SMART boards.
2. Universal school meals to address childhood malnutrition.
3. Provide one tablet per child, to access Maths and English apps, eg My Maths.
4. Invest in Maths, Reading and English; making them a national education priority.
5. Improve remuneration and working conditions for our teachers.
That said, this GTU national strike, shouldn’t be seen as one, only for teachers. In fact, this strike is one which has the teaching and learning environment of our children paramount, even as it demands better remuneration and working conditions for our teachers. Thus, it’s for this reason, we must all stand in solidarity with our teachers and children, since this installed Government isn’t.