Haynes wants to know: How many teacher vacancies are there?

Tabaquite MP Anita Haynes.
Tabaquite MP Anita Haynes.

MP for Tabaquite Anita Haynes questioned the number of existing vacancies in comparison to applications received by the Teaching Service Commission (TSC).

In a statement, made a day after the TSC announced it will no longer be accepting unsolicited applications, Haynes also questioned which subject areas are underserved.

“Are there provisions to generate applicant interest in those areas as opposed to simply the application process?”

She said in March she questioned the Minister of Education on whether the government’s public service vacancy freeze affected the teaching service.

“While the minister indicated that teacher recruitment was ongoing despite the freeze, she was unable to confirm how many vacancies existed at the time and how many vacancies were filled in the past,” said the statement.

“This is what we mean by a laissez-faire and high-handed approach to policymaking. In six months, the ministry has gone from continuous teacher recruitment to no longer accepting applications. However, is the data that ought to inform policymaking available now?”

She said decision-making in the absence of data is characteristic of the ministry. “After more than a year of hybrid and virtual learning, many students are still without devices and connectivity, struggling now more than ever before.”

She said the ministry is only now seeking to establish the need for devices among teachers. “It’s as though they are attempting to reverse engineer their way back from a hastily made declaration rather than making informed and systematic decisions to get to the ultimate goal.”

Haynes also said children and teachers are without devices and connectivity while vacancies in schools and agencies have gone unfilled.

“The Students Support Services Division is understaffed and overwhelmed and employees of the Education Facilities Company Ltd are working without salaries. These various instances of mismanagement are clear indications that the problem is coming from the top.”

She said the government has issued yet another policy of dejection that only serves to further demoralise young people as they grapple with the increasing costs of higher education, cost of living, and diminishing employment opportunities.

“We should all be concerned because the mismanagement of our education sector is a direct blow to citizens and out overall potential for national development.”

Responding to Senator Wade Mark in Senate on Friday, Minister of Agriculture Senator Clarence Rambharat said, “The TSC is an independent body charged with responsibilities under the Constitution. As such, decisions regarding teacher recruitment should properly directed to TSC under whose remit this matter falls. The Minister of Education is not in a position to presume what the response is.”

Wade asked why the TSC, as an independent institution, made the announcement instead of the minister.

Rambharat said the announcement will not be made by the ministry because the issue falls within the constitutional power of the TSC.

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