Teachers of Mount Carmel Primary School in Benque Viejo del Carmen Town, Cayo District, have received permission to protest and will do so tomorrow from nine o’clock in the morning to midday. As we reported on Wednesday, the 41 teachers at that institution were out of class as they protested a number of grievances with the school’s administration. At the top of the list is the case of one teacher who reportedly is not allowed to teach after her license expired on September 9, even though she had applied and was given a special permit since July and became effective on the same day her license expired. The situation has interrupted classes for 937 students at the institution. Today, President for the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU), Elena Smith says they are aware of the situation.
Elena Smith President BNTU: “We are aware and we have spoken to the Branch President for Benque and we spoke to the local Marcher De Con Cal and I wanted to explain what the situation was there. I must say that we received from the management in Benque the concerns that they have regarding these teachers that are out on demonstration on their behalf. We have sent those to Dr. Carol Babb so that she could look at the concerns that was raised and she could address them and she promised us that she would be looking into them and as a matter of fact she spoke to the De Con Cal and as we understand it she said that the Ministry will be looking into the matter and is trying getting it resolved so from our end we are working with the Ministry to see how best we can resolve the matters.”
According to Smith, while in this case the teachers are supporting one colleague, the issues that the teachers are standing against are faced by many more across the country.
Elena Smith President of the BNTU: “There are times when we cannot identify who really is at fault because the management would say it’s not us, it’s the Commission, the Commission would say it’s not us it’s them who is sending documents late so it’s difficult for us to determine and say who is exactly at fault but we discussed the matter with the Minister when we had that meeting last week and the Minister had promised and I am hoping that I can make this public but he had promised us that the Ministry will look into the matter and they will look to putting a specific person at the Commission to deal with these cases so that the teachers will have direct a link to somebody at the office, they have hot line of sorts where they can call to get information and so that one person then would be responsible for providing our teachers with answers to whether the document was received? whether addition was being made on them so they can get and answer so that instead of the teachers having to call and not get any answers from anybody because normally when you call or you go there they will push you around and tell you to ask the other person that goes there and the Minister has said he is going to be looking at having one person at the office specifically for dealing with these matters so that should help.”
The BNTU is also monitoring the situation with teachers at ITVET in Orange Walk Town. There the teachers staged a sit out for at least three days last week protesting a number of issues with the administration. The teachers have returned to class after a meeting with representatives of the Ministry of Education.