At the change of government last November there were several unresolved issues between the Ministry of Education and the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU). One of those pending issues had to do with the contracts for teachers. In speaking with the BNTU’s President Elena Smith she confirmed that they have met with the new administration and a way forward is being charted.
Senator Elena Smith, President of the BNTU: “Our initial meeting was just you know you have that first courtesy meeting and your introductions and that kind of thing set, set the stage for how you are going to be operating you know during the time and so we did that but we also took the opportunity to share with the minister some of the concerns that we have or that we had not gotten resolved with the past administration and those include our collective bargaining agreement that is still outstanding after thirteen years we have not concluded. We also spoke with the minister in terms of addressing the amendments to the education rules because we believe that there are several areas in the rules that need to be amended and there might be some matters that we might need to include in the rules to make some of these expectations of our teachers a bit clearer or in terms to say those that have not been addressed in the rules that we can now address them to ensure that we are all on the same page. We spoke about amending the rules we also shared with him the matter of the rules speaking to renewal, maintenance of license as opposed to renewal of licensing and then teachers signing contracts and how contracts would affect our teachers in the long term. So those were brought up and we had agreed that we will be meeting in January and when we meet here in January now we are going to be looking into more details into these matters. So again like I said the meeting was just to lay on the table some of the issues that we need to get resolved and starting January now we are going to now go into further discussions, more meetings and trying to see how we can put something in place to plan how we are going to be addressing these matters.”
As it relates to the current closure of schools Smith noted that the teachers stand ready to return to the classrooms when the time comes. As for the CSEC Exams she noted that a final decision on this matter is yet to be passed on to the union. The BNTU had expressed concern over the readiness of the students to take the exams.