The Ministry of Education yesterday evening condemned the “uncaring and unconscionable call” by the Guyana Teachers Union for strike action, and stressed that it is wholly irresponsible and not reflective of the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic nor the needs of the nation’s children. The Ministry was also keen to note that those who yield to this call will not be paid.
The Ministry highlighted that children have been home from school for over seventeen months; and despite the world’s best efforts, there has been a well-chronicled resultant loss of learning and school-leaving (dropping out). In the Guyana context, the Ministry said it has evidence of significant learning loss and drop-outs at every level, with more than six hundred drop-outs recorded at the primary level alone.
“We are working assiduously to arrest this situation and reverse this reality for our children who have already fallen victim to these phenomena. We want all of our children engaged and in school and are working towards achieving this safely. There is no mandatory requirement for children to be vaccinated to return to classrooms,” the Ministry said in its statement to the press.
The Ministry added, “Our teachers have been accorded the status of a most valuable resource and teachers were paid their full salary and benefits throughout the seventeen months; there were no salary cuts or layoffs as in so many other countries.”
It was also highlighted that vaccination of teachers is not mandatory as there are clear guidelines issued for those who do not want to be inoculated. The Ministry said too that the Government of Guyana has spared no effort to make multiple types and brands of vaccines available to every member of the public and return the country to a state of normalcy.
With the foregoing in mind, the Ministry of Education said it is adamant that there is no grievance/basis for strike action and therefore urged all teachers, parents, and administrators not to fall prey to the “political machinations of Coretta McDonald (General Secretary of the Union) and the small cabal of self-serving individuals who have hijacked the Guyana Teachers Union.”
The Ministry reiterated that all teachers who do not work will not get paid.