This morning the Association of General Managers for the pre and primary schools met with officials from the Ministry of Education. When we spoke with the association’s President, Deborah Domingo, she told us this is the first part of a consultation process.
“We did get in to discussing ways to assist students in making up what they may have missed during the time they were out of school so that was the focus of our discussion today. We can consider today’s meeting as consultation. There was consensus that we need to allow student’s achievements to push us in the direction we want to go even if it means revisiting the school calendar which is a prerogative of the Ministry of Education to ensure that schools have the number of contact days prescribed in the education rules. The Association is made up of general managers of pre and primary schools and so the ministry needs to consult with the managing authorities of secondary schools and I believe that meeting is scheduled some time for early next week.”
Education Minister, Patrick Faber says there may or may not be extra time required from the teachers to meet the requirements of the Education Rule 131 which states that pre-school centres, primary schools and secondary schools or institutions shall provide no less than 180 school days during a school year.
“The idea here is to look at the school’s calendar. As you know there have been quite a number of days missed and as a result of that what we’re finding out is that we’re falling short of the number of contact days that are required by the education act and rules and so we are in discussion with the managing authorities both the secondary and at the primary level to see what can be done to amend the calendar for the school year 2016-2017.”
‘Would this entail putting in extra hours or is it an adjustment of what currently is?”
“Well it is panning out to be that we might have to put in extra days. As I said it is premature for me to say the details of what that is because we have only had half the consultation so far but so far it is looking like some additional days and as our release said yesterday we will make sure that teachers are compensated for those days, if those additional days are added on to the school’s calendar.”
Minister Faber went on to say that in the process of these consultations, it would have been ideal to have the BNTU support and contribution.
“Contrary to what was put out there by the BNTU, our intention when we invited the BNTU to sit with us was to start discussions on makeup time yes but it was not in an effort to try to plan out that makeup time so when the union says it is not the ministry who is to decide on the makeup time and all that, they are right. Those discussions have to be had with all the stakeholders but what we are seeking to do with the BNTU is to engage them to get support because indeed if it is that we are all saying that the students are at the center of all we are doing and we are recognizing that valuable instructional class time has been lost then we are intent on making that time up, it is best that we get the BNTU support to say to the teachers listen even the union supports this but given the situation where there is now less than 180 contact days given the lost days then there is an obligation that the Chief Education Officer with the stakeholders aim to adjust the schools’ calendar and that is what we are moving to do now.”
Today’s meeting was held at the Education office in Belize City.