‘We will not stop working’ – Education Minister on ongoing teachers’ strike
Amidst the ongoing illegitimate industrial actions organised by the Guyana Teacher’s Union (GTU), Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand has reaffirmed her ministry’s commitment to fulfilling its mandate of ensuring the nation’s children receive quality education. “What we will not do is stop working because of this. So, what are we going to do tomorrow, we are going to continue this entire process of teaching,” the minister affirmed.
Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand and Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton discussing the GTU strike
During an interview on Monday, Minister Manickchand stated that the ministry has already begun implementing the programmes and policies that were included in the recently passed 2024 budget. This includes the distribution of school supplies cash grant which commenced on Monday. Additionally, the ministry has made provisions to ensure children are engaged through the various learning platforms for those children who may be affected by the reduction in teacher attendance due to the ongoing strike. “Where your child is affected, we have deliberately and consciously crafted educational content on all our platforms,” she explained.
Education content has been made accessible across all grades, particularly for those children preparing for the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA), the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations, and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE). These can be viewed on the ministry’s website, the Guyana Learning Channel (television and YouTube channel), the recently launched ‘EDPal’ app, and on the EdYou FM radio station. Addressing the ongoing strike, Minister Manickchand stated “The strike was not warranted…There are so many things that have been done that are making teachers not only professionally better but adding to their personal lives.” The minister said education officials met with GTU executives last Wednesday to address the remainder of the 41 demands that were proposed to the ministry.
“GTU said if you grant us these things, teachers’ lives will be better…We have met 25 of those demands and we have granted and done 28 other things. [We have] taken 28 other actions, some personal [and] some professional,” Minister Manickchand stated. She reminded that the government raised teacher’s salaries by over 20 per cent since taking office in 2020. Notably, last year President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali announced $1.9 billion in salary adjustments and duty-free concessions, following engagements with teachers across the country, as well as representatives of the GTU and other unions. Meanwhile, Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton, who was also being interviewed, said the union should take the route of discussions in resolving the issues. “The union must go back to the table of discussions, that is where the matter will be resolved,” he affirmed.