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Ministry of Education and Guyana Teachers’ Union at Loggerheads Over Reopening of Schools

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The Ministry of Education had recently announced the reopening of schools to facilitate the upcoming NGSA, CSEC and CAPE exams. However, these plans are meeting opposition from the Guyana Teachers’ Union.

On the 11th of June, 2020, the President of the Guyana Teacher’s Union, Mr. Mark Lyte, published the following statement on the GTU Facebook Page.

I am of the view that the Ministry of Education is grasping at straws as efforts are being made to justify the decision to have NGSA , CSEC and CAPE run off during July.

The recent article emanating from MoE which states that consultations and meetings (plural) were held with the GTU throughout the process is fallacious. MoE should produce their minutes to support the fabricated statements that the President of GTU attended any meeting to agree on dates for NGSA, CSEC and CAPE examination which they continue to pedal in the media.

You would recall that GTU wrote MOE on April 8, 2020 highlighting our concerns relating to CSEC and CAPE being written in June and July of 2020. There was no response forthcoming from MoE, on the matter, for over three weeks. Subsequently, the Union vented its frustration in the media on this matter. Thereafter, another letter was written when rumours surfaced that schools would reopen in June and NGSA will be written in July. Again, no formal response was given by the MoE.

The union wrote a third letter seeking a meeting with MoE. It was at this time that MoE extended a formal invitation to the GTU officers, via email. The only invitation on record to a meeting since school closed on March 13, 2020. This meeting was held on June 3, 2020 and attended virtually by officers of the Union. At that meeting, a presentation was done by the CEO highlighting the options for NGSA dates and format of examination along with CXC new dates for examinations.

After the presentation, GTU was asked to share its concerns. As President, I indicated in a clear and profound way that GTU does not agree with the DATE set for NGSA, CSEC nor CAPE. Further, I stated the Union’s disapproval of the format for CSEC and CAPE.

The union enquired whether this was a consultation and was told that the Union was the first of many groups of stakeholders with whom consultations would be held. We then requested to know what the outcome of the other consultations were so that we could have further discussions. This was agreed to by the representatives of MoE. Two days later, without any formal discussion as promised by MoE, dates and the timetable for NGSA were seen in the media, much to the surprise of the GTU.

I write to say that the libelous release of the MoE which seeks to besmirch my character and create rift among officers and members of the GTU will not work. We are resolute in our position that the timing and format of these examinations are poor coupled with the fact that COVID-19 is still affecting Guyanese.These are the reasons why we objected then and now to the timeline and format of these examinations. Just yesterday we reported to MoE that one teacher from Region One had tested positive, which MoE was able to verify. Today, there were unconfirmed reports that two other teachers, from the same region have also tested positive for the virus. We are yet to verify the latter. If proper consultations were carried out or consideration was given to the Union’s position, that is, for the examinations to be done in September, 2020, ALL teachers would have been encouraged to turn out to work and do what we do best.

As President of the GTU, I will not be drawn into any back and forth with MoE but hope that mutual respect be upheld. Attempts to tarnish the character of the president of the GTU or any other hardworking, law abiding citizen of this great country of ours must be debunked in the strongest possible way.

The GTU is here to stay and will unequivocally represent our teachers at all times.

Long Live GTU!

Solidarity forever.
Mark Lyte
President, GTU

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