Opposition Leader Criticizes Government Over Teacher Salary Announcement

Opposition Leader Criticizes Government Over Teacher Salary Announcement

Leader of the Opposition Moses Shyne Barrow is calling out the Government of Belize (GOB) on major issues regarding teachers. GOB recently announced that it will start paying a hundred percent of the salaries for teachers at grant-aided schools, but Opposition Leader Shyne Barrow says that GOB is just copying an initiative proposed by the former UDP administration. Barrow also says that when Minister of Education Francis Fonseca announced at last week’s meeting of the House of Representatives, he neglected to say that there would be an accompanying pension reform.

Moses “Shyne” Barrow, Leader of the Opposition: “When the Minister of Education got up and pronounced that the teachers would be getting 100% of their salaries whereas in some schools they were only getting 70% you know I must highlight to the Belizean people that that will come with a new contributory pension plan where for the first time now public officers will be contributing to the fund and that is what will pay for this increase. So again the government is not doing anything noble or generous just as in the case with the port and I must place on record that the UDP when Honorable Member from Collet Patrick Faber was Minister of Education had made this same presentation proposal to the unions but they had wanted it to be retroactive for all the years that you were a teacher. Whereas now they’re settling for the same thing that the Honorable Faber had proposed which is five years back and at that time there was no contributory fund envisioned although the former minister says that it is something that we would have had to eventually come to terms. But again we just need to put it on the table to be clear that the UDP did make this exact proposal.”

Barrow said that he also takes issue with recent comments about poor-performing teachers made by Prime Minister John Briceno and demands that Briceno apologize.

Moses “Shyne” Barrow, Leader of the Opposition: “We join with the union, the BNTU in demanding that the Prime Minister apologize for the very disrespectful comments that he made. You know yes money is important, financial support is important but to demoralize our teachers like that, to demean our teachers like that in such a blanket statement. There is no system, no institution is 100% effective so of course there will always be people who are not performing but the way in which the statement was made it gives the impression that teachers period are not performing to the level that they should and I believe that is a dishonest report of the facts and the Prime Minister owes our teachers an apology to be so dismissive and disrespectful when teachers, again, suffering from the highest cost of living ever, suffering from being underpaid the Minister of Education said you know he is correcting injustices. So if the teachers have been treated so unjust, if the teachers suffered COVID-19, the ramifications of the pandemic, suffered inflation with very little. I have many teachers in my constituency and I meet many teachers across the country with very little. Teachers spend their own money to make sure that they provide for the students in their classroom all that is needed so that they can impart in them the knowledge and information they need to be the next leaders of our country with very little. So it is not the teachers that are to blame, the state has the ultimate responsibility to create an enabling environment for the teachers and to provide them with everything that they need so that they could function on the highest level. So blaming the teachers for the maladministration and incompetence of the PUP government was shameful and we join with the teachers demanding the Prime Minister apologize for his comments.”

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