Teachers ‘rest and reflect’
By SASHA HARRINANAN Friday, September 14 2012
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SCHOOL'S OUT: Students from the ASJA Boys' and ASJA Girls' schools lime along Todd Street, San Fernando at the end of classes yesterday the first of ...
APPROXIMATELY 75 percent of the nation’s teachers heeded their union’s call for Rest and Reflection yesterday, staying away from schools to highlight the fact that they have yet to conclude negotiations for the October 2008- September 2011 collective bargaining period.
First Vice-President of the TT Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) Davanand Sinanan, who is acting as the union’s president, told Newsday TTUTA is, “very satisfied by the response of our members today.”
“We expect a similar occurrence tomorrow (today) day two of our ‘Rest and Reflection’ over how long it’s taking the CPO (Chief Personnel Officer) to deal with our matter. Teachers are living on 2008 wages in 2012, that’s not right at all,” Sinanan said.
Teachers weren’t the only ones absent from school yesterday.
Many parents kept their children home rather than face a situation where too few, if any teachers, were available to teach or in yesterday’s case, supervise, their children during school hours.
At Queen’s Royal College (QRC) in Port-of-Spain for example, approximately 50 percent of teachers and students did not report for school yesterday. Although classes are conducted as normal, at 10 am, a mere two hours into the school day, Newsday observed a few parents picking up their sons from school.
When asked why he had chosen to collect his son so early, one parent cited the absence of half of the teaching staff.
Fifty percent absent or not, QRC vice-principal David Simon told Newsday, “we had normal school today and we expect to do the same tomorrow. Our teachers are not limited to teaching particular forms, so even though half of our staff did not turn out to work, all classes were held as normal.”
An even lower turnout of staff and students was reported at the Trinidad Muslim League (TML) Primary School in St Joseph.
A parent, who identified himself as Peter, said his son’s Standard Five class was the only one in session yesterday because the students are preparing to write the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam next year.
However, his daughter was apparently the only Standard Four student who went to school. “There was some confusion as to whether or not the teacher would be in school, so I dropped off my daughter, hoping her teacher would have been there. But she was the only one in the class, so I had to arrange with another parent to pick her up, since both my wife and I had to work,” Peter said.
Sinanan told Newsday the union received a call yesterday morning from a teacher at a school in Morvant, followed by another yesterday afternoon from a teacher in Carenage about soldiers making enquiries at the schools.
“A teacher called us to say officials from the Ministry of National Security visited an unnamed school in Morvant asking how many teachers had reported to work, who was present and who was absent.
“A few hours later, another teacher called us with a similar report, this time from Carenage,” Sinanan said. Contacted for comment, Defence Force Civil-Military Affairs Officer, Captain Al Alexander said he had no knowledge of any such incidents.
“We are participating in regular ‘Confidence Patrols’ alongside police in the Morvant/Laventille area but there has been no policy decision to get involved in the ‘Rest and Reflection’ matter in any way,” Alexander stated.