“It’s not official”- this is what the management of Catholic Public Schools told Love News this afternoon at a press conference held to speak on a release supposedly sent out by the Roman Catholic Diocese in Belize. The release, like the ones sent before, looks authentic and it may very well be authentic but one thing that it’s not, is official. This is according to Sister Barbara Flores, the General Manager of the Catholic Public Schools, who told Love News that she got to know of the release while she was listening to Love FM 12:30 radio news report. At that time she was meeting with assistant managers to discuss contingencies for Monday’s strike. According to Flores, the release does not represent the views of the Catholic Public School Management.
“I will not say that it’s fake. I can’t say it’s fake. I just want to say that it is not official. That press release was not an official press release and it does not represent what Catholic Public Schools managment feel toward the strike. So I just wanted to say that I had an opportunity to speak with the Papal Nuncio. The press release as you can see is not signed, as I was meeting with our managers representing every district it came to my attention that this press release has been released and so we were preparing for any eventuality with regard to Monday moving forward. So it was in the process of that planning that it came to my attention. I was in conversation as you know Bishop Wright is not well and I wasn’t able to reach him and I then decided Bishop Clancey is out of country and so I then decided to have a conversation with the Papal Nuncio. I am not aware if you understand who he is but he is the Apostolic Nuncio to El Salvador and to Belize and he is the Pope’s representative from the Holy Sea to Belize and he is also the diplomatic representative of the church.”
The release that was sent out states quote, “These educational institutions are not the walls that make up our school buildings but our teachers….”, end of quote. The release points out those teachers are a key stakeholder in nation building. The release also goes on to say quote, “Today’s battle for truth in governance being championed by these selfless teachers, adds to a distinguished list of battles bravely fought on behalf of this grateful nation and its children”. End of quote. With these quotes, one would believe that the Roman Catholic Diocese and by extension the Management of Catholic Public School were in support of the teacher’s strike. That is not so says Flores.
“As far as the Catholic Public Schools is concerned and on his behalf and in his name I speak ,the diocese of Belize City and Belmopan support, we have last week and continue to support the fact that schools are to remain open and that we will put into place contingencies in the event that we have teachers absent. Of course I want to say that also the security of children is our number one priority, the security and safety of children we are going to do everything we can to put a mechanism in place to ensure children’s safety but also to teach and so that is the current position.”
This is not the first press release we have received from the Roman Catholic Diocese that has not been signed. On September 19, a release was sent in which the diocese expressed its appreciation for Government’s appeal of Section 53. On September 1, a release was also sent in which the diocese expressed its grave disappointment on Church Senator Ashley Rocke for voting against a Senate Select Committee. These releases were not signed by the Bishop- who at the moment is ill. We also note that the press release was not sent using the diocese’s official email. Over thirty thousand students at the primary level are under the management of the Roman Catholic Diocese. And while the validity of the Roman Catholic release is being questioned, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association issued its own release on the imminent strike action on Monday. The BSCFA expressed its full support for the demands made by the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) to the Government of Belize. The release says quote, “The BSCFA fully supports the BNTU in their demands, as they deal with matters of national importance whose effective resolution has been long overdue … In solidarity with the BNTU strike, the BSCFA will close its offices in Corozal and Orange Walk Towns on Monday.”