Should teachers pay for training? What The People Say About...
By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
January 28, 2002

The mass exodus of teachers has prompted suggestions in the media that teachers attending the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) should be made to pay tuition fees. The views of the man/woman-in-the-street to the question `Should teachers be made to pay tuition fees for teacher training?' follow.

Richard Wilson - manager: `I would strongly oppose the view that teachers should be made to pay for teacher training. I think the state has a moral obligation to train teachers and pay them well as they are the backbone to every other profession. We really cannot pay them for the foundation they have given us in life. Teacher training is not one for personal development, it is for the total development of the nation or nations at the end of the day. No computer or robot can replace a teacher. So all this talk about information technology filling the breach will not work. It may provide information but it cannot teach the morals that are gradually giving way to vulgarity in the society right now. Teacher, nurses and policemen need good salaries and incentives that would make them want to stay in the profession and serve as best as they could to help develop this country.'

Darshan Sukhnandan - student: `Many persons see teacher training in Guyana as a stepping stone to other professions or a visa to another country to a better life. Teacher trainees I feel should be properly screened before they enter the profession so that they could be guided early as to career choice. I strongly feel that they should pay for their teacher training and they will also be bound to serve not by signing a contract but because they would want to gain some experience before they could go on to another country or to do their university degrees. Teachers without some experience will not be considered, except for exceptional cases but preference will always be given to experience.'

S. Persaud - public sector employee: `I don't think teachers should pay for teacher training. The contract (to work with the government for a number of years) is payment enough and we really cannot compensate teachers for the job they do. No one can put a cost to the important role the teachers play in any nation. However, I believe the way to retain our teachers and nurses as well is to give them incentives. Apart from paying them a livable wage, they should be given incentives such as house lots and mortgages and duty-free allowances for cars after they would have served for a number of years and their seniority as well. This could help them to want to stay and probably go overseas on holidays only. The teachers training college could probably be open to teachers from the Caribbean who could pay as well so that they could go back and teach in their own countries. Some may even want to stay in Guyana more the Guyanese teachers themselves.'

Griswald Vankenick - teacher: `Teachers should not be made to pay up front for training. The contract is enough and for many teachers it is like a sentence. However, for teachers who may want to leave the system and violate their contract mechanisms should be in place for government to ensure that the Guyanese taxpayers are not robbed of their hard earned savings. I wouldn't be the one to suggest what should or should not be done. Don't believe that teachers get it easy either. Teachers get a rough time obtaining transcripts when they want to seek employment overseas as most times teachers don't really chase after them because of the bureaucracy. And only for this reason I would say that if a teacher wants to pay up front for training then he or she should be given the option so that on graduating they could obtain their transcripts.'

Banu Deonarine - secretary: `It think it should be optional. They should either pay if they want the training and they know that they will not be committed to teaching in Guyana or remaining in the profession or if they want to make teaching a career sign a contract to serve as a method of repayment as they do now. But apart from the need to train teachers because of their importance to the growth and development of our children I believe that paying teachers good salaries or giving them incentives will motivate them to want to make genuine contributions to the development of the country.'

Christopher George - student: `Teachers should pay up front for their training in the same way students pay to go to UG (University of Guyana). Scholarships should be offered to students who are really desirous of wanting to teach for the love of it and for those who really cannot afford it like those in rural and hinterland areas. Taxpayers money cannot be doled out for teaching training and they run at the first recruitment drive there is from overseas. Teaching is going out of style in some countries and we have to either train them for export or find ways and means to keep them. Which will it be?'

Andre Smith - miner: `Teachers get free training - benefiting from taxpayers, like me and you, money. They may or may not give back after they would have been through teacher training. If the contracts are not effective, then let them pay up front. Many of them get the training and when do they pay back? After they would have left the country and then want to return back on holiday? They must also be paid properly otherwise we will continue training for the next century, our teachers will continue to migrate and we will end up with teachers trying to get the experience only so as to migrate. I think the government should wake up to this reality.'

Gangaram Raghubir - private sector employee: `It should be optional. Teachers should decide if they want to pay up front or they sign a contract to serve. There should be some cost recovery mechanism after all education has a price. If they want to leave at the end of their training then let them do so. See how many will be employed overseas without experience anyway. In all this, however, there must be salaries and incentives that will make the money they spent on training worth wanting to remain in the country to develop it. Right now we have a problem on hand and it will get worse if some solution to the problem is not found.'

Alvado Vasquez - businessman: `In the same way students pay to do courses at UG teachers should do the same for training at Cyril Potter (College of Education). I have no problem with that. It's a cost recovery mechanism and education has a cost as well. If we have seen our teachers migrating as soon as they could some measures to stop the migration would have to be put in place somewhere along the line. Some may say that you make teachers pay and there would be no teachers to train. I would say let us give it a chance first.'

Rickford Hector - photographer: `In effect teachers trainees should not pay for tuition for teacher training or we get no teachers in the system... at least not with the kind of salaries being paid. Yet with the mindset of teachers as evident by the recruitment drive by the US I would say to implement some cost recovery measures and see how it works. And for heavens sake pay the teachers better salaries and complement this with some incentives. The distribution of house lots is a good idea but make sure that mortgages are made available as well. All this must be done for nurses and policemen, too.'