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Sunday 19 May 2019
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Tentative truce by teachers

Education Division promises to address Signal Hill issues

Teachers and parents of Signal Hill Secondary School protest last Friday during the lunch break outside the school compound.
Teachers and parents of Signal Hill Secondary School protest last Friday during the lunch break outside the school compound.

THE Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Division of Education has committed to addressing the issues plaguing teachers at the Signal Hill Secondary School, this comes on the heels of a lunchtime protest outside the school’s compound last Friday.

Speaking with Newsday Tobago on Monday via telephone, TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) Tobago Officer Orlando Kerr said he has since met with the Division’s Administrator, Jacqueline Job.

“We had a meeting with the Administrator on Friday afternoon after the picket and she promised that the air-condition units in the lab today (will be fixed)...and the issue of the Mathematics teachers, she said that they would look into it this week.

What is happening, they are offering month to month contracts and they are obviously not attracting anybody because the month to month contracts is just short of slavery really, it doesn’t make any sense and those who are qualified would not go on a month to month contract.

“The issue of the (insufficient) deans, she said that they would liaise with the Teaching Service Commission because they are claiming that they would have sent applications to the commission and they are awaiting interviews. Our position is that you just cannot send them, you have to impress upon the Commission the importance and the urgency as this is not an issue specific to Signal Hill,” he said.

Kerr, however, is still not confident that the situation would be rectified any time soon.

“Based on history, based on what has happened in the past… the Division, usually when you go back to work, they usually renege on a lot of their promises; they do one or two things and then they renege on their promises. On this occasion, we plan to really monitor and if we find that there isn’t any progress, we’re going to really take some kind of action,” he said. Amidst calls from the public for TTUTA to change their approach to protesting, Kerr said the Education Division often forces them to act they way they do.

“They want the trade unions to change their approach, but we would sit around the table and we’ll have extensive discussions on matters, in an attempt to try to be proactive on many issues and nothing happens. The only time that something happens is when it is out in the public space. That is when something that they’re taking years to do, they take a day or two to complete.

“While I hear that persons are talking that trade unions should change their approach, I don’t know that it is of the trade unions alone to change their approach, because our employers must change their approach if they want trade unions to change their approach,” he declared.

Kerr revealed he three students who allegedly beat up a teacher at the Signal Hill Secondary School have been suspended while the matter is being investigated.

He believes if the students are found culpable, there should be a zero-tolerance approach to this indiscipline.

Contacted for comment, THA Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, who also holds the portfolio of Secretary of Education, said he was looking into the issues.

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