Education Minister disappointed by GTU Protest

Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand MP has expressed disappointment over a protest by members of the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU), over what they claim was a lack of consultation on the upcoming National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) and salaries for teachers.

The Minister said the protest action in front of her ministry’s Brickdam location, was clearly orchestrated by GTU’S General Secretary Coretta McDonald because of some ‘hard truths’ spoken about her by a government official.

Minister, Priya Manickchand MP

 “A protest to say that we did not give you an invitation for you (GTU members) when you are attending in another capacity is not only ridiculous it is bordering on madness, a complaint, I get but a protest I believe is unwarranted.”

Minister Manickchand said the event was a political move by the entity under the guise of the APNU/AFC party. She hopes the GTU would separate itself from the political organisation and continue to work for Guyana’s children.

The Education Minister said since assuming office in 2020, she has made it her duty to meet the union, in what she believes were productive meetings regarding the country’s readiness to reopen schools. This led to the installation of handwashing stations at every school, along with other measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

She disclosed that monthly statutory meetings have been held several times.

“The union has been putting the meetings off, I thought at the time, but I still hope that those were genuine postponements and not an issue was being created so that we could end up in this problem now, or create a problem so that you could protest about that problem,” Minister Manickchand said.

Regarding the hosting of the NGSA, the Minister said meetings were held with parents and teachers among other stakeholders to discuss the ministry’s plan. 

“The union’s complaint seems to be that we must not meet with the teachers but speak to them. (It seems as though) we must speak only to the union and while the union is an important stakeholder, they are not and will not be the only stakeholders that the ministry speaks to, or consults with.

The union seems to be burying its head in the sand, the union will tell you it has no clue that its members have asked and are back in the classroom.

We have been speaking to teachers, we cannot stop that because it is what informs our policies about what we do,” she said.

The Minister said she was also made aware of McDonald’s stance on the ‘Because We Care’ initiative. Minister Manickchand said she does not share those negative views, noting that the grant is useful to parents and guardians.

Regarding teachers’ salaries, she said the PPP/C Government is looking at every avenue to fulfil a commitment made by the previous government in 2016.

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