These are challenging times, TTUTA president Lynsley Doodhai lamented on Friday, even as he called on teachers to remain dedication to their vocation.
“It is even more imperative that as educators we recognise the important and powerful role that we all have to play in ensuring that our youths become educated, productive and law-abiding members of society,” said Doodhai.
“I take this opportunity to call on all teachers to not abdicate their responsibilities as teachers but rather to re-educate themselves to the teaching profession,” he said.
He gave this address during the 78th annual Tobago Teachers’ Get-Together function, held under the theme Teaching and Leadership in Challenging Times, at the Tobago Nutrition and Cooperative Society in Canaan on Friday.
Doodhai spoke about violence in schools, relating several incidents in Tobago– an assault in January on Signal Hill Secondary School student Jaden Pereira who was seriously injured during a brawl with his peers; the attack on a standard two teacher by a group of standard five students at Bon Accord Primary School, where the teacher was also assaulted by a student’s mother; and the case against woman who tried to gain entry to the principal’s office at Signal Hall Secondary which is now before the courts.
Tobago teachers also had industrial relations challenges, such as delays in upgrades, to deal with, Doodhai said, referring to the April protest outside the THA Division of Education.
“While these matters will seem trivial to some, they represent matters that impact on the very livelihood of teachers and has a demoralising effect ultimately impacting on levels of commitment and output in the classrooms. It was a last resort after all other acceptable industrial relations approaches had been explored to no avail,” he said.
The protest succeeded, he said, as action to address the issues had begun. THA Assistant Secretary Marisha Osmond, who has responsibility for education, innovation and energy, said ways must be devised to overcome challenges and improve education. “We must employ strategic levels and make efficient use of the available resources. Now is the time to embark on an innovative pathway to facilitate the enrichment of the education sector by outlining clear, feasible goals, motivating our students and investing energy into the development of the teaching fraternity,” she said.