Teachers' union concerned about non-appointment of senior staff by Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
August 11, 2002

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The Guyana Teachers' Union (GTU) is concerned that the non-appointment of senior staff in the teaching profession, especially those in middle management, may lead to further migration this year.

GTU president Sydney Murdock on Friday told Stabroek News that because of the non-appointment of members of the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) for the year, no senior appointment could be made in time for the start of the academic year.

To date, vacancies in the teaching profession have not been advertised though it is estimated that there are over 700 positions to be filled at the nursery, primary and secondary levels.

The members of the TSC have not been appointed as there has been no appointed committee of the National Assembly to undertake the required consultations with the various interest groups for the appointment of members to the service commissions, including the TSC.

Murdock feels that some of the current problems being experienced in relation to acting appointments, now being made by the Secretary to the TSC, could be resolved if there were a return to the practice of Regional Education Officers (REdOs) making those appointments instead of the TSC.

The powers to make acting appointments previously vested in REdOs were rescinded in December 2000, making the TSC the sole authority for those appointments.

He said that the rescinding of the powers of REdOs was currently affecting the smooth running of schools. It was also preventing the appointment of staff in a timely manner, and was causing late payment of salaries to those teachers who had been appointed, among other problems.

In the absence of the commission, the Secretary to the TSC, Trevor Thomas has the authority to appoint acting teachers, and temporary unqualified and pupil teachers. Murdock said he was not aware that the TSC had the staff to handle the volume of work in a timely manner, especially in remote areas of the country.

Stabroek News made several efforts to contact Thomas earlier in the week but to no avail.

Though no one could have said why it was that three teachers from Vryman's Erven Secondary in New Amsterdam had not been paid salaries since they were taken on the job in April and had received letters of appointment in May, Murdock said that their case may very well be related to the current problem of appointments being made by the TSC.

The problem of the Vryman's Erven teachers was disclosed in a Letter to the Editor of the Stabroek News on August 2. Efforts to find out the source of the problem from the Region Six administration and the Ministry of Education proved futile.

However, a senior Region Six Regional Democratic Council official told this newspaper that those appointments had to be forwarded to the Finance Ministry to execute payment which was the cause of the delay.

Before the powers of appointment of the REdOs were rescinded, Murdock said that they ensured that teachers were not made to suffer because of appointments.

Murdock said that since those permanent appointments which had been made in early September last year no others had been made since. He said that teachers like other professionals were looking for upward mobility and the better salaries that went with promotion.

The most affected in terms of the filling of vacancies for senior posts, he said, would be those in middle management positions such as Heads of Departments, Senior Masters/Mistresses and Senior Assistant Masters/Mistresses.

Staff in this category also sought promotion as deputies and heads of schools.

According to Murdock, the middle management category was also most sought after by recruiters to fill vacancies in other countries where the salaries and working conditions may be better.

Caribbean countries - including the Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos Islands - Botswana in Africa, the United States and England are among the countries which actively recruit teachers in Guyana and other parts of the Caribbean.

He said it was known that a number of teachers waiting for promotion in the past had left the country for other destinations a day or two before their appointments to fill senior positions locally had come through. The delay in promotion and appointment was one of the factors that contributed to migration.