QC PTA proposes upping teachers salaries

Stabroek News
September 4, 1999

The Parent Teachers Association (PTA) of Queen's College (QC) wants to offer the teachers of that school the salary package that their union had proposed to the recent arbitration tribunal.

On Thursday, the PTA appointed a committee of five to discuss the matter after broad agreement was not reached.

The package the Guyana Teachers Union had proposed contained increases ranging from 25% to 40% depending on the salary scale. The tribunal awarded a two-tiered hike of 10 and 12 per cent.

The QC PTA held a meeting at the National Cultural Centre on Thursday, but was unable to come to a definite decision since some parents were not in agreement with some of the ideas the executive body of the association put forward.

It was proposed by the executive committee, which is headed by Juliet Holder-Alleyne, that the association should establish a trust fund to which every parent would contribute $2,000 a month to help pay the teachers, according to their designation and qualification. This was met with objections from a wide cross- section of the parents, who felt that some of the teachers do not deserve higher pay.

With no solid decision being arrived at, the association appointed a committee to discuss the matter and communicate its decision to the body.

Some parents said the $2,000 per month contribution would be beyond them.

One parent, whose presentation was given a round of applause by other parents, said that the executive should be a little more realistic since it was dealing with "real people". He acknowledged that the teachers were underpaid, but said that unless parents were legally bound to make the contribution, then some of them would not and one section of the parents would have to bear the burden of paying the teachers.

The parent said that the teachers of the school being underpaid was not the only major problem. He said that the question he was asking himself and he was sure other parents were asking was should they find another school for their children.

This parent said that he has been around long enough to know that some teachers spend more time at the University of Guyana than in the classrooms teaching the children. "Why should I pay someone who is not teaching my child," he asked. The parent said that it would be better if he took the money and sent his child to private lessons.

The executive committee was also accused by parents of making decisions without consulting them and also of not meeting as often as possible.

But Holder-Alleyne, in trying to calm some of the obviously angry parents, said that the ideas from the executives were not imposed on the parents, they had a choice and that was why the meeting was called so that they could arrive at a decision that everyone agreed upon.

One parent pointed out that the association should not wait until there was a crisis then do something, but should do its bit to improve the general appearance of the school and its surroundings.

Headmistress of the school, Wendell Roberts, said that the state of the school's building was causing severe stress to the teachers. According to her, unless the east and west wings of the school were connected then the teachers would continue to be uncomfortable. She commented that money in itself was not a motivator, but the lack of money could be a demotivator.

Another issue discussed by the body was recruiting the services of retired teachers and parents who were teachers but are now occupied in some other field at flexible school hours.

Roberts commented that it would not be a problem and they would not have to contact the ministry for permission since the school had flexible hours; some teachers keep students after school or they keep classes before normal school hours.

The committee that was set up is expected to communicate with the general body by the end of September and a final decision is expected to be made soon after. (Samantha Alleyne)

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