As you have heard in our newscast, the Ministry of Education has announced the schedule that will make up the time lost in the classroom as a result of the teachers’ strike earlier this year. It is a decision that the President for the Belize National Teachers Union, Luke Palacio has expressed displeasure at and had indicated via an interview that they would be meeting on that matter with the branches. It seems that meeting has taken place as a release was sent out this evening noting that their position remains the same as that which they displayed regarding salaries. They noted, quote, “We believe that our school managers and not the Ministry should plan alongside its teachers and implement that make-up time.” End of quote. The release went on to state, quote, “The Ministry of Education has relied on Rule 131 (4) of the Handbook of Policies and Procedures for School Services 2000 to forge ahead with an amendment to the school calendar where a school falls short of the one hundred and eight school days; however, that rule clearly states that special arrangements shall be made by the school and not the Ministry of Education to fulfil this requirement. Additionally, Rule number eighty of the Education Amendment Rules of 2012 speaks clearly to a teacher’s entitlement to vacation days during the Christmas break, Easter break and during the month of July.” End of quote. Just a week ago, Love News had spoken to Education Minister, Patrick Faber regarding this very same situation should the BNTU refuse to return to the classroom on Tuesday, January 3, 2017; here is how he responded.
“Well Mr.Palacio has said that the union will not engage in the additional day added to the school’s calendar by the ministry in fact he accused the ministry and the managing authorities of working together in plotting. We tried our best to engage all the stakeholders including the unions to try to make sure that the children are the benefactors in what we do at the end of the day. Mr.Palacio is right when he says that ordinarily the days for Christmas and all other breaks are specified in the law but it also says that when you fall below that 180 days that in fact those changes can be made and that is exactly what the ministry and the managing authorities engaged in and so we have not changed course we will ask teachers to be present on January 3rd to ensure that our children who I’ve always maintained are the ones who we should be focused on get maximum benefit as it relates to class time as we have lost very valuable time as a result of the recent strike action.”
Love News will keep following this situation as it develops.