Letter: Teachers dancing to whose tune?

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Some teachers on the protest line [File photo]

Dear Editor,

Dancing has dominated many a deliberation recently in Guyana and has been food for thought. The German teacher and author of “The Power of Now and A New Earth,” Eckhart Tolle, wrote, “Life is the dancer and you are the dance.” Hindu philosophy teaches, ‘life is a big stage and we are all actors going through different scenes.’ With the blessings of the rainy season regularising itself once again in Guyana, are the teachers or the students dancing between the raindrops? The group, “Blood, Sweat and Tears” warns, ‘what goes up must come down.’ In Guyana, we say, “What goes around, comes around.”

Not only is the government being held by a gun at its head under duress, but the students are being squeezed on their necks and backs by the knees of some of the teachers and mocked by a laughing GTU standing by, admirably! Are those teachers teaching students that they need not work but must be paid? Are the teachers promoting, propagating, and preaching bullishness in the schools? How can some teachers look at their students square in the eyes and want to teach them about, honesty, integrity and equality? Teachers are as important as any other worker in the private or public sector, be it garbage collectors or stevedores’ doctors, nurses, policemen, or firemen.

They are not aloof for any special treatment and other employees have the same needs as they do. Einstein lectured that greed is one of the three great forces which rule the world, fear is the second. How interesting is the third!

Besides, hasn’t the government already satisfied more than half of their demands and granted increases and allowances far more than they could have ever dreamed about during the PNC administration, as per the Ministry of Education’s 39-step affirmation press release last week? Where is their sense of responsibility? The English poet William Langland lauded in the 1360 ‘Piers Plowman,’ “Patience is a virtue.” The government never abandoned the teachers and was always ready, willing, and able to empathise with them and continue the negotiating process.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and the oil industry is only three years old in production. The President from inception of his inauguration has conducted numerous community outreaches. In his meet the people tour, has any teacher ever raised the problem of dissatisfaction? Take a hard look at the passing rates of the students and think about who or what is the major contributing factor in this predicament. Is it the teachers their teaching or both?

Dean Abbot, a data scientist said, “No data is clean, but most is useful.” One can easily compare the significant contrast between the differences in achievement by the former PNC administration and the current PPP/C Government. The PPP/C Government is, was, and will always be a caring and concerned administration for the welfare of the educational institution, the students, and the parents. While tertiary education will soon become free, graduated UG students residing at home will have their tuition written off.

The PNC raised tuition fees during their last administration! 99 percent of teachers are trained or in training and now trainees can receive their full salary while attending CPCE free. More teaching materials are being made available for the schools, new schools are being built and old ones are being renovated and modernised. The “Because We Care Program” was abandoned by the PNC. The PPP/C Government has augmented this allowance to $45,000 per child and this will advance to $50,000 come next year. Textbooks are for free distribution. Primary school students are enjoying free meals. To complement hardship and poverty during the Ranger reign, the PNC raised taxes!

Parents are simply frustrated and fed up with their outlandish, greedy, and unrealistic demands. No wonder, parents prefer to tighten their belts and send their children to private schools for tuition. The results at the private schools are encouragingly competitive and lucrative. The public schools are being challenged by the extension and education of the private schools. There is no criminal behaviour in the private schools and children do not carry weapons to school. There is no children/ teacher fighting nor parent/teacher busing.

The high degree of discipline instilled and instituted is integrated into a structured program that is applicable, practical, and effective in molding a well-groomed child from nursery to tertiary status. Mark Twain reminded us, “Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.”

Teachers are being led astray with their eyes blindfolded. In this agricultural nation, farmers know they cannot afford to sleep when the sun is dawning on Mother Earth. Likewise, teachers need to shake off their slumber and be the early bird to catch the worm, otherwise, they will find that the bus has left the station. With the introduction of AI, IT, and online teaching, technological modernisation is gravitating faster in all areas than we can accept or acknowledge in the classroom. The bitter lessons from COVID-19 have forced the world, including the government, to revolutionise their methodological approach towards teaching techniques and have an open mind to embrace an intuitive initiative and explore adaptable alternatives that are advantageously acceptable and agreeably affordable.

Having a sitting member of parliament from the Opposition in an authoritative position in the teachers’ union, will always cast an in-criminative and discriminative disposition and create a strong inclination for unilateral biases and a regular aversion for any pro-ministerial proposition as a resolution. As such, are the teachers dancing to the tune played by the GLU and selected by the PNC to pacify their political program?

Yours respectfully,Jai Lall