Ministry does not expect major problem in new school year
Guyana Chronicle
August 17, 2002

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WITH the beginning of the new school year just three weeks away the Chronicle has been reliably informed that several schools will be without their full complement of teachers, because many who were recruited earlier this year have already left for the United States to meet an August 5 orientation there.

However, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Mr. Hydar Ally when contacted said the ministry was unaware of this development.

He said if there was such a situation it will not pose a major difficulty because of the intensified teacher training programme under which about 600 trained teachers graduate every year.

Ally said that in the past the ministry was able to cope with such difficulties, noting the situation when a large number of teachers left for Botswana.

He noted too that teacher migration is not only a problem for Guyana, pointing out that 600 teachers will be leaving the Jamaican school system for U.S. schools in the new school year in September.

He also assured that the placement process for nursery and secondary schools was progressing smoothly and did not foresee any major difficulty with placements in the new school year.

He observed though that there may be slight difficulties at the Campbellville Secondary School in Georgetown where some renovations would have to be done to accommodate those students who did not obtain a place in the mainstream secondary school system.

Earlier this year a large number of teachers attended a recruitment meeting at Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown which was conducted by U.S. educational authorities.

General Secretary of the Guyana Teachers' Union (GTU), Mr. Lance Baptiste in response to the recruitment exercise at Le Meridien, told the Chronicle then that the migration of teachers "did not start now".

"It started many years ago during the previous government, when a lot of our teachers migrated to Caribbean countries", he said.

He said the union, recognising the escalating problem, had urged the Ministry of Education to implement measures to rectify the situation.

Among the proposals the GTU put forward were the provision of low cost housing, favourable loan facilities at the banks, duty free concessions for cars and discount facilities at business enterprises.

With respect to the latter, Baptiste said the union on its own initiative had been able to get such a facility at a few businesses enterprises, among them the Laparkan Group of Companies and Nigel's Supermarket in Georgetown.

He declared that teachers need to live with dignity and a comfortable living standard so that they feel appreciated and wanted.

Most of the teachers do not really want to leave but they take a chance because they see others go and come back in two or three years time and are able to buy a house and or a car and live a comfortable life, he said.

"Something which most teachers after 30 or more years in the profession cannot afford," Baptiste added.

In response to the position of paying salaries in accordance with what the national economy can afford, he said that when the teachers go to the business place to buy, that factor is not taken into consideration.

"They have to pay the same prices as everybody else," he contended. (CHAMANLALL NAIPAUL)