Despite protests, criticisms Manickchand open to talks with teachers’ union
Even as the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) has been protesting decisions made by the Education Ministry to help keep teachers safe through vaccinations, and levelling criticisms against the Minister of Education Priya Manickchand, the minister says she is open to talks with the union.
She said this on Wednesday at the sidelines of an event held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre at Liliendaal, Georgetown.
Over the past few weeks, the union criticised actions taken by the ministry and the government at large. These actions that are criticised include the move to reopen schools and the vaccination requirements instituted for teachers.
But Manickchand contended that the union’s actions are counterproductive and not serving teachers’ best interests. Even so, Manickchand said that she is willing to engage the union on plans for the future since she believes that they are an important stakeholder.
“The union has to reorganise itself and determine what it wants to do.
“I am prepared to engage anybody in the interest of children and teachers who teach and in fact, I truly hope that they can reorganise and come back because I think they have great value, once they operate as a union,” Manickchand said while speaking to reporters.
During remarks at the launch of a Teachers’ Welfare and Support programme at the venue, the minister said that this programme was not crafted in response to the protest action organised by the teachers’ union.
Instead, she emphasised that the ministry was trying to find ways of providing other benefits to teachers. This comes on the heels of a cabinet outreach to Region Two (Pomeroon- Supenaam) last weekend, where President Dr. Irfaan Ali told residents that his government was focusing on providing a menu of benefits including scholarships and houses in addition to salary improvements.
Manickchand said that the ministry is ready to support the professional development of teachers, too, but emphasised: “…. we will not let petulance, personal interest or political intervention stop us from what we have to do.”