news 20180124 1Not only are the teachers, spread across the public school system, seen as important but according Secretary of the Guyana Teachers Union [GTU], Ms. Coretta McDonald, “our charges who are the students and the pupils are even more important because they’re the ones who are going to be our leaders of tomorrow.”

She recently said, “If we only talk about monies for our members then what happens to our charges? We have to ensure that we put systems in place for that first.”
It was against this background, McDonald said, that the union decided to forge a strategic partnership with The Caribbean Voice. The Caribbean Voice is a non-governmental organisation with a focus on antiviolence.
Because of this collaboration, just recently the Caribbean Voice was able to reach out to more than 100 teachers from schools across Canje, Berbice. At this forum, which was addressed by GTU President, Mr. Mark Lyte, the teachers were also enlightened about a number of issues including cervical cancer and sexual abuse. The presentations were by Dr. Latoya Gooding and a representative of the Childcare and Protection Agency.
According to Coordinator of the Caribbean Voice, Guyana Chapter, Mr. Nazim Hussain, reaching out to the teachers was a deliberate tactic. He revealed because of what is occurring in the sugar industry, there have been signs of school children being affected by the spin off effect of some workers being severed from sugar estates.
Hussain said that while the Caribbean Voice was initially aiming to train students how to cope, it was McDonald who decided that a more strategic approach would be to reach to teachers instead, so that they can be the first responders. It is anticipated that this move will not only reach the students and pupils but their parents as well.
A similar training programme will be held on Friday [January 26] at the Berbice High School where Hussain said, “We are assured of a larger audience of teachers.”
Also on February 3, the Caribbean Voice will be heading to Rose Hall to continue its training drive. This, Hussain said, will be done in collaboration with the Guyana Sugar Corporation which will provide the facilities for training, and it is expected that the movement will attract some donors since Caribbean Voice is strictly unfunded.
Among those who are expected to be targeted are some displaced sugar estate workers, current employees of the estate, ranks from the Reliance Police Station and representatives of other organisations and individuals 18 years and older.
“We are not going into the estates to tell people about what whoever did, and who got them severed; we are going into the sugar estates and these areas to do what is called trainer of trainers [TOT],” he asserted.
Speaking on the collaboration with Caribbean Voice, GTU McDonald said, “We recognise that in everything we can’t stand alone and so together…we are going to have even more benefits coming in for both entities and for our country at large.”
Since the partnership will be focused on a number of key areas, McDonald said that the Union is poised to do a number of things including helping to save lives and developing and nurturing new attitudes and behaviour patterns.
“In this partnership, we are not only going to build our teachers, in terms of assisting and helping them to develop new skills and dealing with the social ills we have, but we recognise that we are going to pass this knowledge onto the students so that we will be able to teach our students how to operate with each other, how to resolve conflicts without fists fighting or using weapons,” McDonald said.
According to McDonald, currently the school system is dealing with the challenge of too many weapons. This, she said, is a reflection of what is already happening in the wider society.
The GTU, McDonald said, has recognised that in order to be able to quell some of the prevailing challenges its partnership could yield fruitful outcomes.
Moreover, the two entities in the near future will be signing an official partnership to further expand its collaboration. “We recognise that so many issues are affecting us…affecting teachers, affecting the schools, affecting us in our wider society and so we have decided to join on this band wagon to build right attitudes, save lives, educate persons and together be able to build a society that we all so long for,” said McDonald.