The teaching fraternity has strongly rejected an attempt made by the two-month old government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell to introduce the New National Party (NNP) Manifesto for study in the school system.
A well-placed source told THE NEW TODAY Newspaper that a letter addressed to school principals, dated April 12 and signed by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Eunice Sandy-David who is also a close relative of Dr. Mitchell advised teachers to familiarise themselves with the manifesto generally and in particular the sections that deal with Education and ICT.
A copy of the letter shown to this newspaper reads, “ Dear Principal, Re: New National Party Manifesto 2013. I am directed to share with you an attached New National Party (NNP) Manifesto 2013. I am also directed to advise that you are required to read the Manifesto generally and specifically with regard to the section of Education and ICT, and share same with your staff.”
The source who wished to remain anonymous said the principals regard the letter as offensive and repugnant since the Manifesto was being delivered to schools even before the NNP “delivered a grain of rice or a pound of chicken, or a pound of sugar to feed the poor people children” in the School Feeding Programme.
According to the source, the teachers are angry with the Sandy-David letter and many have refused to sign it.
This newspaper understands that when a circular letter is sent out to schools all members of staff have to read and sign before a copy is returned to the Ministry of Education.
“Why am I being forced to read the NNP Manifesto? Where is the separation of Party and Government?” the source queried.
A public school principal was quoted as saying that in his many years in the teaching profession, he has not seen anything like that kind of development since the days of the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution.
At a particular school in St. George’s, this newspaper understands that the Sandy-David letter was just left lying on a table in the staff room.
“That letter was just left on the table and nobody is bothering with it. We have never seen that before and I wish I could know the objective,” a teacher said.
Meanwhile, teachers of the St. George’s Branch of the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) reportedly stormed out of a meeting last week Friday that was called to discuss the proposed retroactive rescheduling payments with the Mitchell government.
A source in the teaching fraternity said they were called out to discuss government’s proposals of how they would receive the payments that were negotiated with the former government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The source said government’s counter proposal placed on the table would result in less money for teachers than what was originally negotiated.
According to the source, the NDC Government had offered them bonds at six percent that would have matured in 2014, but that has now reversed to cash from the Mitchell government which when worked out is less in value.
The new proposal from the two month old government is said to be meeting resistance from the Grenada Union of Teaches (GUT).
The source said things became heated when the President of the St. George’s Branch of GUT, Frankson Marshall told the members that on February 19, Dr. Mitchell and NNP were given an overwhelming mandate to govern the country at 15-0, and “all of us inside here have a part to do with it.”
“Teachers picked up their bags and they walked out of Hindsey School immediately,” the source added.
According to the source, one teacher stood up to Marshall who teaches at Grand Anse R. C. School and informed him that she did not vote for that since she was one of the 22,000 who voted for Congress in the election.
Government has already put in place a sub-committee of its negotiating team to renegotiate the payment plan with public workers.
The team is headed by former Permanent Secretary Beryl Isaac, and includes the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Timothy Antoine, and Lana McPhail, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism.
This newspaper has learnt that the public workers were given a deadline of May 1 to respond to the new proposal as submitted by the Mitchell government.
The issue of a rescheduled time table for the retroactive payments was expected to feature prominently at Labour Day celebrations on Wednesday.
Labour Representative in the Upper House of Parliament, Senator Raymond Roberts told the House that workers have always been called upon to sacrifice and it is time for government officials also to start making sacrifices.
In addressing the Senate as part of his contributions to the debate on the 2013 budget, Senator Roberts noted that poor judgments on the part of governments over the years have resulted in workers being called upon to make sacrifices.
He charged that workers have been called upon to pay back millions of dollars in the failed Garden Group project under the former NNP administration and millions more in the failed hotel project at Mt. Hartman to U.S investor, E.J Miller.
“We want to assure government that workers will undergo the pain to ensure that Grenada raises its head again. However, that shared sacrifice must be for everyone,” Sen. Roberts told the Senate.