The Grenada Government is embarking on several initiatives aimed at regularising temporary teachers throughout the country.
Addressing the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing last week, Minister for Education, Anthony Boatswain said that there would be an analysis of all temporary teachers in the employment of the government of Grenada.
According to the minister, government is seeking to develop a matrix of all temporary teachers and make decisions as to who will be appointed permanently and to create a cadre of teaching assistants or part-time teachers whose services would be retained as necessary on a contractual basis.
The Education minister informed the media that Cabinet last week adopted a proposal from the Ministry of Education on the way forward for temporary teachers in the school system.
He said the proposal is considered to be a road map to regularise the status of temporary teachers – an issue often raised by the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT).
The three-point formula is expected to be implemented by the end of the next school term.
Minister Boatswain told the media that the issue of temporary teachers is problematic and requires urgent attention.
He said the records show that as of November 2012, out of a total 1529 teachers known to be in the system, there are 523 temporary teachers.
He stated that the highest concentration of temporary teachers is in secondary schools, which he believes is due to the number of graduates coming out from the TA Marryshow Community College (TAMCC).
The senior government minister believes that a lot of these persons are not too interested in teaching as a career but are mainly looking for a source of income and as such enter the profession on a temporary basis before moving on to pursue a career path or some other sustainable job.
According to Boatswain, this issue is not unique to Grenada but government does not want to encourage the practice, as it does not help to build a cadre of professional teachers in keeping with the overall CARICOM standard of practice for the teaching profession.
He said that a significant number of the 523 “in transit teachers” have been in the system for a very long time, and in some cases for more than a decade.
He believes that some of these temporary teachers are dedicated but unfortunately were not appointed even to posts that were declared vacant and instead were given temporary assignments renewable every year.
“…Those temporary teachers are needed in the system because they came here as what we call additional units because of the expansion of the school curriculum and therefore they are not easily replaced, but unfortunately they do not hold any permanent appointment in the system”, he said.
“And without that permanent appointment it creates a problem if not legal, but morally because they cannot engage in any long-term financial contracts. They are not committed because they know that their tenure in the system is not secure and therefore it does not auger well for the overall performance for this category of these temporary teachers”, he added.
Minister Boatswain pointed out that the plan would seek to ensure that the “temporary teachers” who are not needed would not be on the payroll of the government but could be recruited on a contractual basis as the need arises.
“…So in the long run what (we) will have is the permanent teachers increase because of the vacant positions being filled but the temporary would decrease because we would be phasing out all the temporary teachers and there would be what you call a pool of substitute teachers who would be called upon as need be”, he told reporters.
Minister Boatswain sees this as the best way forward and as such there must be budgetary allocation for the recruitment of these teachers as well as a legal framework to cover them.
However, he was quick to point out that government is open to discussions with the GUT on the issue.
The Education Minister said that government needs to regularise the teaching system as it cannot continue with the status quo.