Teachers still need much better working conditions
Stabroek News
January 29, 2002

Dear Editor,

I refer to Chelsea Singh's letter entitled "Much has been done to help teachers" [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] (2l.l.2002). The writer trots out some statistics and fails to address the real issues that face our teachers in and out of the classroom. I have always argued that our teachers, as moulders of our nation should be treated with respect and dignity like in the not too distant past when teachers were highly regarded.

Singh attempts to justify the little crumbs that the Government has thrown to teachers since they came into office in 1992. It is not surprising that as defender of mediocrity, Ms Singh finds it proper to remind her readers that since 1992, the working conditions for teachers have greatly improved. Her statistics, however, fail to impress and render her `facts' meaningless in the face of the massive tide and sheer force of the mass exodus of teachers to Botswana, the Caribbean Islands and now the U.S.A. This dramatic reality has overwhelmed her attempt at propping up a system that is near collapse.

Every citizen knows the main issues affecting our teachers today. Teachers, like our nurses, need better working conditions which will enable them to be in a position to live comfortably in their own homes and be able to purchase a vehicle, to move around with their families and to take their children to school on time. They need to be able to save enough for rainy days and for their children's future and be able to afford a nice annual vacation to a neighbouring Caribbean island or even an island in the Essequibo or a trip to Kaieteur or Lethem.

These are basic needs which point to the issues that require urgent attention, failing which all the monies expended on the school buildings and other cosmetic changes which Ms Singh so proudly boasts of shall continue to be a waste of time and resources. With no deliberate policy to enhance teachers' financial status in keeping with the high cost of living, the present patch work educational system and policies will continue to force out teachers and bring about a collapse of the education system, which was once rated as `simply the best' in the English speaking Caribbean.

Yours faithfully,

Lester Fields