Snagged in the political web Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
September 24, 2002

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THE importance of the education sector to the national developmental process is unquestionable.

It therefore must be given the necessary support from all sections of society, regardless of political and other persuasions.

In Guyana, the tendency to lock every issue into a political web is ever prevalent and this compromises the national good in many instances.

The appointment of members of the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) is one of those issues which seems to have been caught up in this web, because constitutionally, before appointments can be made, there must be "meaningful consultations" with the Leader of the Opposition.

However, the latter has been refusing to meet President Bharrat Jagdeo since the adoption by the Opposition People's National Congress Reform (PNC/R) of a policy of extra-parliamentary tactics and putting a `pause' on the dialogue process with the Head of State.

The consequences on the education sector are severe because the crucial issue of the appointment and promotion of teachers is virtually at a standstill.

In addition, those teachers who have dedicated themselves to the profession for decades and are about to retire, or have just retired, will now have to wait for an unknown period before they can get their benefits.

Certainly, those teachers affected as a result of this unfortunate scenario are not of one political, ethnic or religious persuasion, therefore if the issue is being used to `grind a political axe' then it is a most unfortunate and untenable tactic.

What is essential for national development and the future prosperity of this country has to take precedence over narrow political and partisan interests and posturings.

It is the only way forward - any other way is futile and a spoke in the wheel of progress.

Ultimately, with the failure to appoint and promote teachers, the students are the ones who will suffer most, and this will not help in an environment already affected by a teacher migration problem.

The entire education system is being held hostage by this tactic, it would seem.

This is a matter that has to be dealt with as one of urgency and must not be allowed to drag on much longer because the end result will be extremely counterproductive, further hindering the pursuit of national developmental objectives.

The Government and the relevant authorities should use this situation as a learning experience and perhaps revisit the constitutional requirements governing the appointment of national commissions of this nature, and if necessary to legislate legal provisions to handle such situations when and should they arise.

It is unfair to all Guyanese and most distressing that progress is being virtually held hostage because of narrow, partisan agendas.

Genuine efforts should be made to resolve the issue in a timely and amicable manner, and very importantly it must be clearly communicated to the affected teachers what is the difficulty and what is being done to rectify the situation.

This should be done since too often issues spin out of control simply because the relevant authorities do not properly inform the aggrieved party or parties about the reason or reasons for their inconvenience.