Teachers’ union president indicts MoE for negligence

He used the example of Universal Secondary Education (USE) which government embarked on in 2013 to criticise the ministry.

“Perhaps the greatest tragedy of this programme has been the NTTC. My friends, I consider this a travesty, and perhaps, I may go even further to state that in the court of educators and in the court of public opinion, the Ministry of Education has been found guilty, guilty of criminal negligence,” Azille said as he presented the State of the Union Address.

Azille said the concept is a great idea, in principle, but for many students “a horrible experiment in reality”.

The union boss said the body believes every child should have access to mandatory pre-primary, primary and secondary education; however it cannot be a universal access, but access to quality education.

In the speech that was punctuated by applause, Azille spoke directly to the Ministry of Education, represented by Permanent Secretary Rosa Greenaway and Deputy Director of Education, Clare Browne.

Speaking to the issue of special needs education, the teacher’s union president said simply employing a special needs officer is not enough to address the problem.

“They have asked me to say to you that such a move must translate into the development of a national policy which is informed by all stakeholders, and which takes into consideration all aspects of special needs,” he said.

Referring to the proposed plan for the creation of a University College of Antigua, Azille said this is welcomed, but he queried projects which were in the pipeline to address overcrowding in the classroom.

“What has happened to the CDB project which would facilitate the construction and expansion of our secondary schools? I hope we can find some answers,” Azille said.

“How do you intend to satisfy the ever increasing need to find additional space in our already overcrowded schools? I hope we can find some answers,”

The president of the union said secondary school students and teachers continue to play the game of musical chairs “in an effort to secure the very scarce and rapidly declining spaces in our secondary school plants”.

He said the problem is evident at several secondary schools on the island.

Azille also addressed other issues affecting teachers such as job upgrades and remuneration, health and safety and security at schools, and the issue of their representative on the Board of Education (BoE).

The, annual General Conference forms part of the 2015 Teachers’ Week being held under the theme, “Teachers Uniting Today’s Classroom for Tomorrow’s World.”

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