ECCE teachers protest
By RESHMA BAAL Friday, November 26 2010
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PROTEST: Early Childhood Care and Education teachers during their protest outside the St Clair office of the Education Ministry yesterday. ...
APPROXIMATELY 75 Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) teachers staged a noisy protest outside the Ministry of Education in St Clair yesterday to highlight issues such as poor working conditions, salaries and the implementation of increased qualifications in order to be part of the teaching service.
The teachers, together with Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) officials, demanded a meeting with Minister Tim Gopeesingh, who was not in office at the time. TTUTA President Rouston Job, said although the teachers were members of TTUTA, “we cannot represent them officially but we continue to advocate from them very vigorously.”
He said the nation should acknowledge that the early childhood sector was the very first step in the education system, and as such, the teachers should be part of the establishment of the teaching service.
All teachers in the public and private ECCE facilities are required to have a degree in early childhood education. He said the ministry was trying to raise the bar on qualifications, but insisted that the teachers working in the system for years cannot be ignored.
Job said some of the teachers have been in the service for over ten to 25 years and their service should be taken into consideration by the ministry. “Teachers in the system for many years must be counted. You can’t cast aside those people who would have gained so much experience in the system,” said Job.There are approximately 500 ECCE teachers in the system at this time.
Last year, the ministry said some 300 ECCE teachers would receive a 100 percent increase in salary. Many teachers had been receiving salaries ranging from $1,400 to $2,600 a month.
Job also expressed concern over the one-year contract offered to the teachers.
General Secretary of TTUTA, Peter Wilson said that TTUTA could not guarantee that the ECCE system would not be disrupted. Although many teachers are not working, Wilson said the system was still “limping around”.
Minister in the Education Ministry Clifton De Coteau said the status of ECCE teachers whose contracts were terminated is expected to be resolved by next week. “We have interviewed and there are 35 administrators who were selected they will be communicated to quite shortly. We are also reviewing the contracts because there was some degree of inequity in the whole thing. Some people were getting $5,000, some were getting $2,500, we need to correct that anomaly. As we speak this matter is being addressed,” he said.