Several districts which participate in the National Schools Championships, yesterday affirmed their support of the move by Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) President Colin Bynoe to withhold the union’s involvement in the games until the Ministry of Education rectifies its probe which found four Queen’s College teachers negligent in the handling of the Neesa Gopaul case.
The heads of the districts indicated that they will stand fully behind whatever decision is made by Bynoe, if the MoE chooses not to rectify the situation since the probe had been done without the involvement of the GTU.
Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon last week indicated that five members of the staff of QC, including the head and the deputy head, are to face disciplinary action for their involvement in the Neesa Gopaul issue. According to Luncheon the sanctions follow a report from the MoE after a team had carried out an investigation at the school.
This investigation, Bynoe said, was done without the involvement of the GTU, and without the teachers having a chance to have their say in the matter. Moreover, according to Bynoe, the exclusion of the GTU from the investigation is in breach of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the MoE and GTU.
In that light, Bynoe said, the GTU could not continue to collaborate with the MoE to host the schools championships since infringement of the MoU is “disrespectful” and a sign that all is not cordial between the two bodies.
And in an interview with Stabroek Sport, Bynoe declared that the GTU will not be rendering their expertise to the championships “until the matter in relation to Neesa Gopaul and the QC teachers can be rectified.”
“Today is them, tomorrow is any one of us, could even be me. So we have to deal with this now – we have to stamp it out now. The Union should have been informed and be a part of the investigation and because GTU took a position then we will stand by it. The GTU is one body and we will support him [Bynoe],” one district head pointed out.
The hosting of the prestigious annual championships now hangs in the balance. The district heads noted that the issue is not the hosting of the event but a matter of the GTU’s involvement in the championships but the MoE is free to host the event on their own, if they don’t take the union’s concerns on board.
However, should the GTU withdrawal occur it would result in a highly compromised championships as the event is one that is wholly conducted by the GTU. Traditionally the teachers oversee most technical aspects of the championships while the MoE looks at the financial control.
“We would have a championship that is very faulty. If you take the teachers out nobody from the ministry will get up from their paper pushing desk to go out and run the championships. They run the money – we run this championship. How they treat teachers in this country is very unfair,” a district head declared.
The heads stated that they are in agreement with the stand Bynoe has taken since they too are also of the opinion that the MoE is disrespectful, and they also believe the QC teachers were wrongfully punished.
“Teachers should be respected and GTU have to deal with this matter now because in future when teachers find themselves in a political issue they will be blamed. If they [MoE] get off with this other teachers would feel it. The teachers spoke to the welfare, they [welfare] knew of the issue – teachers are not social workers. So we stand in solidarity behind the QC teachers and the Union,” a district head said.
One district head contacted said that they could not make a formal decision until they were brought up to speed on all details pertaining to the issue.
When attempts were made yesterday to contact Permanent Secretary of the MoE, Pulandar Kandhi, Stabroek Sport was continually informed that he was in a meeting. Early last month the mangled body of 16-year-old Gopaul was found stuffed in a suitcase in a creek at the now abandoned Emerald Tower resort on the Soesdyke/Linden Highway. Gopaul’s mother Bibi Shareema Gopaul and her lover Jarvis Small have since been charged with the teen’s murder.