The strike continues into its third day tomorrow. The Belize National Teachers Union has decided to extend its industrial action to two more days. Tomorrow, members of the BNTU will take to the streets campaigning and educating Belizeans of their cause. And on Thursday, teachers along with supporters will launch a nationwide mass demonstration. This will put more pressure on the Barrow Administration which has now asked for a meeting. In Belize City, the announcement was made by the President of the Belize Branch, Kathleen Flowers.
“Let me give you that long awaited announcement sort of and strike action continues. We shall not be moved. Despite what will come up, because it will come, despite what will come at us with that announcement we will stand our ground. We are standing our ground until we get a feeling that we have a solid enough indication from those persons we are calling on then we will say here is the baton the relay continues because BNTU has moved this stagnant ship from out the dock and it’s sailing up the bay on our captain it but we have to at some point in time tell other people since we are standing for country it belongs to all of us you have to get on board.”
“The support is overwhelming and we must know that we are in here for the long haul. How many of you are in it for the long haul? So if I say we go until next week what would you say?(Cheers) Next month ? (Cheers). No pay right ?(Cheers) We are willing to go another week and another month? Teachers as we have said we will punish a bit but we will not die. We are used to this because we take out of our pockets, we leave ourselves out for our children so we are used to sacrificing. So we will not die, God is a good God and he takes care of his own.”
“BNTU’s mouth will not be shut and we will not fade into the darkness. We will stay on board the ship, just that we will nudge the captain. So people the word now is strike continues. So we are gearing up for day three. How many more days there will be I can just tell you that on Thursday we are doing our mass countrywide demonstration.”
Tomorrow is World Teacher’s Day and Flowers says the teachers can relate to this year’s theme which is “Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status”,
“Tomorrow is World Teachers Day. What a way to celebrate. We will be showing world and country that these teachers in Belize can stand up for what they believe in and so to do that we have some plans we will be sharing with you in a short while. I want you to learn this theme, Valuing teachers. Improving their status. That is the World Teacher’s day theme and coincidentally it fit right into what we were doing. They were very clairvoyant when they chose that theme because what we are doing will bring a value. You know when you are doing production of goods you say you have value added well this is value adding to what we do as teachers. Tomorrow the work we will do will center around the theme for World Teachers Day.”
After the meeting we had a chance to speak with the National President of the BNTU, Luke Palacio. We asked Palacio for a comment that Minister Wilfred Elrington made in regards to the BNTU’s stance on national issues. Elrington asserted that he does not know if the teachers have the wisdom, competence or ability to deal with national issues. Here is how Palacio responded:
“I believe that Mr. Elrington is being his usual self, typical of persons in government who believe that they are all knowledgeable because that statement shows how arrogant these people in government are. Why do you have teachers and you ask teachers to teach Belizean History, you ask them to teach about how we are governed, you ask teacher to teach about the ministerial system of government and now you are going to say that the teachers don’t have the wisdom to deal with matters of governance. But more importantly than that for us the Minister basically continues just like his government has been doing in trying to insult the teachers of this nation and it is so unfortunate that our country has come to that stage. Our teachers are dedicated, our teachers make sure that we teach the curriculum and equally as important it goes back that what has been happening in our political system that all politicians basically believe that once the teachers have voted that is the end of the story. So you are coming to campaign to me and tell me all the good things that you will do simply because either you are out of government and now when you are in government you are saying that the teachers have no wisdom and don’t have the ability to talk about governance, that is why we are doing what we are doing today. We are standing up for this country because we want accountability and transparency. We want to bring an end to this ministerial corruption that we are seeing and also bringing an end to Minister’s believing that they are elected and after they have been elected they can do absolutely no wrong, we did not vote in any demigods in our country.”