Teachers within the public-school system, who have children of their own, can take them to work, says Education Minister, Priya Manickchand. She made this suggestion during a press conference yesterday afternoon, to update the media on the reopening of schools across the country to students of grades 10, 11, Sixth forms, and those attending Practical Instruction Centres (PIC) and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions.
“If teachers have young children, we have said: bring them into the school, set up an area, let them do their lessons there. So, we’ve really thrown the rulebook out and said: Do whatever it is that you have to do to achieve this goal of educating this cohort of children and preparing them for their exams,” the Minister said.
She added that when a teacher expresses a desire not to return to the classroom, the school’s administrator is allowed to assess why, and determine how that educator can still contribute. She further stated that teachers who wish not to return, can still mark and send lessons through his/her colleague to the class.
Manickchand also noted that Secondary School teachers are not required to be in schools all day.
“We are not asking teachers to come at 9 o’clock in the morning and stare at the wall and go home at 3[pm] like robots. We’re saying if you have a class at 11[am] to 1[pm], you can come out from 11[am] to 1[pm],” she said.
She also explained why teachers, who teach lower Grades, are still asked to turn out.
“If you have a class of 35 students – which is the allowable student-to-teacher ratio in Secondary – and you do not have the space to distance those students at six-feet each, then you have to spilt that 35 into three classrooms. So, you will have to have three teachers come out instead of one.”
The Minister also noted that some teachers have not been seen or heard from since March 2020, when Guyana recorded its first imported COVID-19 case.
“The Headteacher has not heard from them. One headteacher said to us in the presence of everybody else, that the only thing she knows is that some of those teachers are not dead. But she hasn’t heard from them, which means, the class did not hear from them either. In any large enough bunch, you’ll find that sort of negligence, laziness, whatever you want to call it,” she said.
The minister said that despite this, this “does not define the majority of the teaching service”.