Updated Tuesday September 14, 2021, 4:03 PM by Denis Chabrol
The education ministry said on Tuesday it had taken over the management of the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) scholarship program and duty-free concession, in response to what the ministry says are threats against teachers who did not participate in the protests.
“The Government of Guyana hereby hands over these two programs to the Ministry of Education. Thereupon, the Ministry of Education will lead and manage this program as obtained in other government agencies with similar benefits, ”the Ministry of Education said in a statement.
GTU President Mark Lyte and General Secretary Coretta Mc Donald did not immediately respond to calls or messages asking for a reaction to the Education Ministry’s decision. A demonstration scheduled for Tuesday did not take place. The GTU earlier this week encouraged teachers to return to their classes on Monday while executives predicted a resumption of the protests on Tuesday based on a schedule that should have been posted on its Facebook page.
The education ministry said scholarships and duty-free concessions would still be awarded to teachers but the GTU would not be involved. “To be clear, these benefits will continue to be given to teachers. Our teachers will still be able to access grants and tax-free concessions at the amount indicated per year. Our teachers will continue to benefit from these programs, thus realizing the true intention of the program, but in an organized, fair and transparent manner, ”the Ministry of Education said.
Under an October 2018 agreement, the GTU and the Ministry of Education had agreed that they would jointly decide which teachers would benefit from 100 duty-free vehicle concessions for some senior teachers and 50 scholarships to study the scientific and technical education at the University of Guyana. (U G).
But the education ministry said the awarding of scholarships and the granting of concessions were being used as weapons against teachers who refused to participate in protests against COVID-19 measures that require teachers to be vaccinated or submit. a weekly negative PCR test. .
“These benefits were intended for teachers. Don’t attack them. Do not discriminate against them, ”said the Ministry of Education. “Lately, complaints have shifted from mismanagement of the system by the union to perks being used as weapons to threaten teachers to participate in GTU-organized activities, failing which members are openly and subtly informed that they will not be. not a recipient or continuing recipient of a scholarship or duty-free concession. These reports come from teachers duly qualified to receive these benefits. These reports cannot be ignored, ”added the ministry.
The Education Ministry’s decision comes just days after the GTU has already denied the accusations.
GTU last week held three days of protests in Georgetown and other parts of the country to pressure the government to relax COVID measures and accept payment of money owed.
Lyte on Tuesday again called on the Education Department to open talks with the GTU to address his concerns. The GTU chairman this week urged teachers to stop calling their protests a “strike” and this warning was followed days later by Labor Minister Joseph Hamilton, calling the strike illegal because he did not. there was no grievance.
Prime Minister Mark Phillips and Governance Minister Gail Teixeira attacked the GTU, opposition politicians A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU + AFC) and a few female teachers, mostly women, for insulting the Education Minister Priya Manickchand loosely using the term “grated.” “It is disappointing that some segments of society find it amusing to target the education minister with such unpleasant messages,” said retired Brigadier Phillips.
“How can the leaders of the Guyana Teachers Union, a predominantly female organization that teaches girls in our schools, representing 50% of the school population, support songs and chants that surreptitiously mock the pervasive crime rape? How can parents trust these teachers with their daughters? Asked Ms. Teixeira. She further described the industrial action as an “attempted protest”.