Hundreds of Berbice teachers took to the streets yesterday, joining their colleagues in escalating an ongoing nationwide strike for better wages.
Over 500 teachers took to the streets of New Amsterdam, Berbice and Rose Hall Town, Corentyne to protest for increased wages. Teachers from several schools who were present for the first two days of the school term, left their classrooms and joined in the strike.
In New Amsterdam, over 200 teachers assembled in front of the Department of Education, Region Six, yesterday morning where they shouted slogans such as “Teachers are ready to work, pay us now”, “Teachers are important, yes we are”, “They cannot substitute us, no, they can’t”.
In Rose Hall, over 300 teachers participated in the protest.
Hundreds of school teachers across the country have struck in support of their union’s wage demands. It was announced yesterday afternoon that the government and the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) are to resume discussions today in a bid to end the teachers’ strike that has roiled the new school year since Monday.
Yesterday, a few parents who were shy to speak with Stabroek News joined the protest in New Amsterdam, while some teachers took their children to the protest. “I want my children to see that their mother is fighting for what she deserve. I would have preferred be at school teaching and have my children attending school but today, this is what needs to be done,” one teacher told Stabroek News.
This newspaper yesterday visited several schools in New Amsterdam and observed that not more than five teachers were present at each. At the Saint Aloysius Primary School, only the head teacher of the school was present with a small number of children at around 10am. Stabroek News was told that parents opted to keep their children at home since they noticed that the head teacher alone would not be able to supervise all of the children.
At the All Saints Primary School, no one was present at around 10:30am when this newspaper visited. According to information gathered, parents from that school also kept their children home since the teachers have been in support of the strike from the beginning.
Over at the Berbice Educational Institute, school was in full session since a majority of the teachers were in attendance.
However, at the Berbice High School and New Amsterdam Multilateral, classes were not in session since most of those teachers were out on the protest line. It was also noticed that ranks and neighbourhood police officers from ‘B’ Division were posted at the various high schools.
There were no classes at the Cumberland Primary School for the first time yesterday as the teachers were all on strike. In the morning, parents were advised to return home with their children, since there would be no one there to properly supervise them.
One parent told Stabroek News, “I ask when will they be there again but they say they don’t know.”
At the Rose Hall Primary School in East Canje, Berbice, approximately four teachers out of 12 were present at the school at around 9am. Stabroek News was told that the teachers present were in support of the strike but handing over their keys was something they were not comfortable with. “Handing over the key, you are still responsible if anything is to go missing or to happen,” one said.
At the Canje Secondary School, out of 32 teachers, just about 9 were present at the institution. Meanwhile, Stabroek News were told that parents were annoyed yesterday morning when they arrived to drop their children off at the school. “I understand the reason the teachers are striking for but why now when is the new school term, then the minister said that she had a plan, no one is here other than those teachers, who will be looking over our children?” one parent questioned.
Meanwhile, the majority of the teachers from the J.C. Chandisingh Secondary School supported the strike action as most of them were on the picket line since Monday.
Teachers at the Rose Hall (Town) Primary School have also been supporting the strike. On Tuesday, the children who were present were placed into one classroom as only one teacher was present there. It was the same situation yesterday.
At the Cropper Primary School, five out of 23 teachers joined the strike for the first time yesterday. However, teachers who were present at the school encouraged parents to send their children to school as they would be conducting classes.
In the Upper Corentyne area, the Crabwood Creek Nursery School, Crabwood Creek Primary School, Skeldon Line Path Secondary, Skeldon High School and the Skeldon High School Annex are among some of the schools where all of the teachers are on strike.