SN headline was bizarre
The Stabroek News published the most bizarre headline in the newspaper of September 22, 2012. It read ‘City teachers divided over automatic promotion – walkout over food aborts corporal punishment discussion.’
The event reported on was a consultation hosted by the Ministry of Education regarding automatic promotion and corporal punishment.
In attendance were officials of the Ministry of Education, the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU), teachers and headteachers from all over Georgetown and several members of the press two of whom I recognized as Kwesi Anthony Isles and Trevor Lakhram Bhagirat. There were also cameras there including one from the Prime News which would have captured the entire event. The editor/management of SN may wish to view this event for him/herself.
At about 12.30pm (and not 1.30pm as reported by the SN) the President of the GTU, Mr Colin Bynoe made the timely and welcome observation that we were moving onto another topic but that as a ministry we were failing to respect the need for teachers to have a lunch period. I recognized that fact as true and apologised. I then submitted the option to the participants there to abort the exercise and return another day. Some teachers chose that option while a larger number, in my view, abstained from choosing.
I decided to abort the exercise and return another day, thanked the participants for attending and assured that the contributions would inform our decision on the way forward.
There was absolutely no walk out or anything resembling a walk out as reported by the SN. It is insulting to all the teachers who were there and even those who were not there to suggest that teachers would be so indisciplined and unconcerned about these most important issues to have walked out of this consultation “over food” as the SN vulgarly and untruthfully published.
How is anyone of the hundreds who was present there ever to believe anything published in this paper again if a retraction is not forthcoming.
I expect the SN to offer an apology to all involved for this most inaccurate publication.
Minister of Education
1. Stabroek News was present for the entire proceedings and made a recording.
2. Mr Bynoe’s intervention was not at 12.30pm, but some time after 1pm.
3. After the President of the GTU first raised the issue of the lack of food or even water, and the matter of a lunch break, there was widespread clapping from the assembled teachers. He spoke further on the matter and then the Minister apologized and made various statements thereafter about the possibility of doing it another day or working through. The Minister then asked the teachers if they wanted to come back on another day, and contrary to what she suggests, most teachers raised their hands when this was put to them. What was clearly stated in our report was that the teachers “promised to return whenever the ministry decided on a date for the corporal punishment aspect of the forum.”
5. Where the strapline of the report is concerned, the Minister might seem to be nit-picking. She did not terminate the proceedings in the first instance of her own volition, but was constrained to do so after the intervention of Mr Bynoe coupled with the decision of the teachers. While technically the latter did not physically walk out after Mr Bynoe spoke, and the Minister wisely decided to ask their opinion and postpone the corporal punishment consultations, nevertheless, the lunch issue did bring the session to a speedy premature end.