Although the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) is pleased that the process to regularise teachers in the service are continuing, the body is not happy with the due diligence being done on the issue by government.
President of the union, Lydon Lewis has criticised the Ministry of Education for not doing the proper due diligence needed to ascertain how many temporary positions are within the system.
The Ministry announced that 70 temporary positions will be made permanent in the system and another 31 will be reviewed for regularisation.
New Parliamentary Secretary for Education, Senator Kate Lewis told reporters at the weekly post-Cabinet Press Briefing that government recognises “the importance of having our temporary teachers given permanent positions because we want them to have a comfortable life as well as to have easy access to debt financing”.
According to Sen. Lewis, when the status of the next batch of temporary teachers are regularised, it will bring to about 380 the number of teachers being made permanent employees and reducing the original number by more than half.
An interview process was conducted on Wednesday by a Panel which was supposed to consist of three members – the Chief Education Officer or his designate, an independent person and a member from GUT.
However, Lewis told THE NEW TODAY newspaper in an exclusive interview on Tuesday that the Union opted out of the panel in order to avoid conflict of interest.
He said the GUT took the position that its responsibility is to be there for teachers if they levelled any complaints about the interview process.
“We would not be part of that interview process because we would have to act as judge if there are complaints after the process is completed. So, it does not make sense with us sitting around the table and then come back and have to act on behalf of aggrieved teachers. That’s why we have refused a sit around the table”, he told the newspaper.
“We asked them to complete the process and when the process is completed we would do our due diligence to determine whether or not the process was clear and transparent and that the best persons for the positions available were selected”, he said.
According to Lewis, he is happy that some temporary teachers will now be made permanent in the service as this is long overdue.
He especially singled out the Physical Education Teachers and teachers from two of the newest schools on the island – J.W. Fletcher Catholic and the Grenada Christian Academy.
Lewis said: “We believe for a very long time the P.E. Teachers especially should have been regularised and they would be in this coming rounds. I am happy that new schools that were set up like JW Fletcher and Grenada Christian Academy would be having their batch of teachers regularised because they came in when the school was formed and therefore there are permanent vacancies”.
The Union President believes that more permanent positions need to be filled and the ministry’s due diligence should have seen that.
“What we are not happy with is the Ministry’s justification as to the number of teachers to be regularised. Based on the information we have now is that we have 135 persons and we’ve only been told that we have just about 71 vacancies.
“The question is what happens to the rest of the teachers who are interviewed and are not successful and would not be placed permanent. We believe that the ministry needs to do more due diligence in determining the actual number of vacancies and thereby putting more teachers permanent.
“We appreciate the fact that they would be made permanent – what we have a problem with is the ministry determining the number of positions they have available.
“…We believe that all of the teachers in the current dispensation … should become permanent; because when we ask them how the teachers would be treated, are they holding on for anybody, are they going to be sent home, the answer is no.
“Therefore, it clearly gives us the idea that these teachers are not holding on, they are not in any vacant position; therefore, their position should be made available and they should be placed on permanent”.