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Union: Staff shortage worrying teachers


The leadership of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Union of Teachers is getting fed up with the teacher shortage plaguing the nation. President Otto Sam, along with his Industrial Relations Officer Denniston Douglas and Public Relations Officer Oswald Robinson outlined their feelings recently.

Sam wants something to be done about it “urgently.”{{more}}

Robinson for his part cited the lack of Math Teachers for fifth form students at the Union Island Secondary.

What concerns him most is that no effort has been made to use the technology available.

“If you don’t have teachers, use the technology,” Robinson pointed out.

The teacher shortage has been more pronounced in rural schools according to the union officials. The inadequacy was rampant in Math, Science, Language, and Information Technology, where as there is an abundance of Business and Social Studies teachers.

The situation has been worsened with the transfer of teachers from rural schools to those within the Kingstown area.

The teachers are keen to maintain a professional relationship because as Sam indicated the SVGTU “has the interest of education at heart”.

They are however “unhappy with a series of actions by the Ministry”.

The teachers believe that their patience is being tested as actions by some education officials appear to be aimed at weakening and undermining the union.

Sam alluded to a recent transfer of the union’s General Secretary Carmalie Nicholls from the Gomea Primary School to the C.W. Rescod Primary School as “a clear assault on the Union”.

Sam, apparently treading cautiously on the move towards any industrial action, noted that the union had developed a pattern of good faith with Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves. However, a certain civil servant was on “dangerous grounds” by trying to overrule the prime minister.

The union views the attempt by the education officials as contempt.

Sam expressed the desire of still communicating with the ministry.

Teachers’ Solidarity week would be observed November 12 to 17, under the theme: ‘Cherishing the Past. Embracing the challenges of the future.’

Part of the highlight of that commemoration would be a march and rally Tuesday 14.

The celebration is in reflection of the Teachers Strike Friday November 14, 1975. Then teachers were demanding improvments in working conditions among other claims. The occasion was marked by an unleashing of tear-gas by the police. Ten teachers were arrested and kept in jail for the following weekend.

Among those persons present Minister of National Mobilisation, Social Development, Non-Government Organisation Relations, Family, Gender Affairs and Persons with Disabilities, Mike Browne.

Browne was then president of the Teachers Union. Also in the lock up with him was former Minister of Health, Yvonne Francis Gibson, who served during the reign of the New Democratic Party.