Orlando Kerr, Tobago Officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) says the waiver of a $24, 000 tuition fee for a bridging programme for teachers at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) would not fix problem of non-appointment of teachers from Assistant Teachers to Teacher 1 positions.
Kerr said teachers, in fact, stand to lose at least 10 years’ service, and consequently arrears owed to them for this period, if they do the bridging programme.
“That tuition fee is only a part of the issue and the Division (of Education) is being disingenuous by behaving as though the waiver of $24, 000 would solve the problem; that doesn’t solve the problem,” he said in an interview on Monday.
“They are saying these teachers will be upgraded when they finish the (bridging) course, and we are saying no to that because these are persons who graduated since 2010-2011. You are saying to them if they finish the (bridging) programme in 2020 that is the date from which they will be upgraded?
Newsday Tobago understands that the bridging programme is taught at UTT - the courses are not part of the Bachelor in Education degree programme at the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC). The programme was created because it was felt teachers needed to do the required courses to be upgraded from Assistant Teacher to Teacher 1, even though they have completed the USC’s B.Ed degree.
Kerr said requiring teachers with a B.Ed degree to the UTT bridging programme was matter that the Division needed to discuss with the Teaching Service Commission (TSC).
“Until and unless that is resolved, even though the fee has been waived, the teachers are not going to do it because these teachers are going to lose, in some instances, ten years of service.
“If you calculate the arrears owned to them, you are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars. We (TTUTA) are not going to advise them to do it,” he said.
He said waiving the fee for the programme was a step in the right direction but there was still the existing problem of when the teachers would receive an upgrade, after completing the programme.
Chief Secretary and Secretary for the Division of Education, Kelvin Charles, has annnounced in his contribution to the THA budget debate that Tobago teachers will not have to pay $24, 000 tuition feed to complete UTT programme.
“What this means is that those teachers who are affected will be able to do this programme for free, gratis and for nothing in respect of tuition fees. This is a vexing issue and it has been an outstanding issue, however in a few months, I have been able to resolve this issue,” he said.