Teachers union wants Dookie's appointment withdrawn
Stabroek News
January 28, 2007

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The Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) is calling for the withdrawal of the Teaching Services Commission (TSC) appointment of former Region Three Chairman Esau Dookie to head Saraswat Primary School.

The union says it believes Dookie was given the promotion because of his political affiliation.

In a statement the GTU said that since the union believes Dookie was appointed for this reason given that he is unqualified and therefore ineligible, all teachers who served or are serving as members of parliament or regional councillors should apply to the TSC for their status to be upgraded. Otherwise the union is calling on President Bharrat Jagdeo or the TSC to withdraw Dookie's appointment.

The statement signed by GTU Administrative Officer Lance Baptiste said, "never in the history of this country has a Teaching Service Commission ever promoted any Headmaster/mistress of a Grade E school to that of a Headmaster/mistress Grade B School, regardless of the circumstances and then to say that this lawlessness should not be treated as a precedent. How absurd..."

The GTU also praised the performance of Commissioner George Cave, who is its nominee on the TSC, and complimented him for being able to stand up for what is right.

Baptiste said the union has lost all confidence in the commission under the chairmanship of Richard Mangar and noted too that the teachers of the nation had been crying shame on the TSC as regards their applications for promotion.

"Many of them felt that under the chairmanship of Mr Mangar, they were treated unfairly," he added.

In an earlier comment before the dissolution of the commission, Mangar had told Stabroek News that the commission was not answerable to anyone and he declined to comment further on the matter. "We are governed by the Constitution of Guyana and we have no comment on the issue, " Mangar had told this newspaper.

"Is Mangar saying that the Teaching Service Commission makes policy decision for the Minister of Education? ... Is Mangar saying that the policy decision on the criteria for promotion, that was agreed upon between the Ministry of Education and the GTU is meaningless to him and some members of the commission and as such he and those members of the said commission can do as they please because they are not answerable to anyone?" the GTU queried in its statement.

The GTU had supported its contention that Dookie was unqualified to head the Grade B school by referring to the set list of requirements agreed on by itself and the Ministry of Education.

This newspaper had learnt that the TSC was divided on the matter of Dookie's appointment following his application to head the school. By a majority decision the TSC decided to appoint Dookie as head of the Grade B school even although other members of the TSC argued that he was not eligible based on the criteria set out. Documents shown to this newspaper indicated that Dookie had neither resigned nor applied to the TSC for secondment when he became chairman of Region in 2001.

Dookie in response said, "I wrote for my secondment since in 2001 and the TSC had granted me no follow-up, but I wrote them a letter about three months back and it is only this year [after his tenure as chairman ended] that I was granted the approval." This was a reference to the letter signed by Principal Personnel Officer of the TSC Elsie Nedd and dated November 17 last year, which granted him approval for secondment from May 2, 2001 to October 31, 2006. Dookie also copied his application to head a Grade A school to the PPP General Secretary and the Head of the Presidential Secretariat. He justified this by saying, "The fact that I was a political appointee and that I reverted back to my teaching career I didn't see any problem copying my letter to them. It was only for them to be informed and not for action."

Dookie said neither Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon nor PPP General Secretary Donald Ramotar was a member of the commission, so he could not see why the GTU would think that he was seeking favours.

Dookie served as Regional Chairman for Region Three (West Demerara/Essequibo Islands) for five years (from 2001 to 2006) and was not re-elected by the councillors of the region. According to the GTU, Dookie did not do the honourable thing and resign after he was appointed chairman in 2001 and so when his tenure was up, "he was left hanging."

Prior to his appointment as chairman, Dookie had been a Grade E non-graduate headmaster attached to the Western Hog Island Primary School.

In a letter dated October 10 last year, Dookie sought promotion to a Grade A school, or if none were available, to a Grade B school. Reports reaching this newspaper said that the TSC was unable to reach a consensus on Dookie's proposed elevation with four members voting for and three against him being appointed a Grade B headmaster.

A policy decision taken by the GTU and the Ministry of Education requires a candidate for appointment to head a Grade B primary school to be (a) the head of a Grade C or Grade D primary school or (b) the deputy head of a Grade A or Grade B primary school.

Prior to his appointment as regional chairman, Dookie said, he had served as a Grade One/Class One teacher for eight years and had subsequently been appointed Grade E headmaster at Western Hog Island Primary school where he served for 11 years. Dookie also said in his letter to the TSC that before his secondment to the region he had been due for a promotion to at least a Grade D school, and if he had been given such a promotion, he was confident that he would have been promoted subsequently to a Grade A school.