PTA at Berbice High School calls off protest

The Parent-Teacher Associa-tion of the Berbice High School called off the protest action planned  for yesterday  pending the outcome of a meeting scheduled for today of the Teaching Service Commission (TSC), the headmistress of the school, and the teacher who was disciplined.
The attendance of the students was reportedly high  and they were advised by their headmistress to attend school regularly.

Ganesh Gangadin
Ganesh Gangadin

PTA president Ganesh Gangadin, in an invited comment, told the media that the association clearly understands that the teacher had violated the code under which she is employed by administering corporal punishment in the manner that she did.  However, he noted  that the PTA in collaboration with the student body and the Guyana Teachers’ Union supported an initiative for the teacher to be reinstated as the judgment had taken too long and the students were suffering. Consequently the  protest action last Friday according to him was an act done in haste.

He proposed to use more diplomacy should the need arise  and would instead rely on the Minister of Education for any intervention.
Gangadin, when   contacted at his Chapel Street office yesterday, revealed that the teacher teaches social studies  and reading in addition to marking the School-Based Assessments commonly referred to as SBAs

The teacher, he said, had apologized  to the affected students along with their parents  and so  the matter should have been dealt with expeditiously, as consideration should have been given to the affected students who are preparing to write the regional examinations.

“While (the teacher) is the centre of this matter,” the PTA president noted, “Sir Mangra, the head of the Agriculture Department was transferred to the Vryman’s  Erven Secondary School since the commencement of the school term   and has not been replaced.”

“The PTA is interested in an equally qualified replacement for Sir Mangra  and for the teacher should the need arise. Both of these teachers had the responsibility of preparing their students for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations, which is about two months away.”
According to Gangadin a meeting was held with Regional Education Officer Shafiran Bhajan who had given the commitment to replace  Mangra and fast track the investigation in relation to the teacher but this has not been done.

Describing the disciplined teacher as an excellent worker based on credibility and character, and  who holds the position of  secretary of the PTA, the president said  she should be given the opportunity to correct her error.

He concluded that the incident  occurred owing to a poor welfare system in the school between teacher and students as the matter was not reported to the headmistress but to a parent.

Gangadin, who also guides the students in the subject of marketing, would like the association to work along with the Department of Education in strengthening the welfare of the students.

Last Friday hundreds of Berbice High School students  protested  against the suspension of a teacher who had flogged students for late assignments.

With the support of the PTA, the students stood outside the building chanting slogans in support of the disciplined teacher. The female teacher is alleged to have flogged 31 students in the class, including girls, with a “bamboo rod” on their buttocks for not submitting assignments on time.

The Education Ministry has said repeatedly that corporal punishment should not be administered to students for schoolwork. Under these circumstances the teacher would then have erred. The Region Six Regional Education Officer received approval from the TSC to send the teacher on leave until the matter is fully investigated. Additionally, it was revealed that the Chief Education Officer (CEO) had written a letter advising that the teacher should return to duty but this had not found favour with the Education Ministry.

At the protest, which was managed by police ranks, under the supervision of Superintendent Simon Mc Bean, the students insisted that they would not enter the classrooms until the ministry gave the green light for the teacher‘s return. As they waited for a call confirming the teacher’s reinstatement, the protesters became agitated, leading police to intervene.

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