On January 10th the Belize National Teachers Union launched a series of nationwide rallies here in Orange Walk and Corozal. Chief among the teachers’ demands is the case for a minimum five-percent pay increase by July. Teachers’ are also calling for an end to corruption in public office. Today the protest took place in San Ignacio and while a large number so teachers joined in the cause, one person that is not in agreement with the rallies being carried out is the Minister of Education Patrick Faber. And he made that known loud and clear during Wednesday’s House Sitting. Faber lashed out at the teachers and even said that they are simply wasting time and that the rallies are uncalled for.
Patrick Faber- Minister of Education
“Let me just make the example Mr. Speaker, in Orange Walk the rallies got started at around nine with the parade and so on and by midday everything was lock down and teachers were all over doing business and so the entire afternoon was wasted Mr. Speaker. In Corozal the rallies were held in the afternoon and so the entire morning was wasted and if anybody doubts that look at what happened in Belize City where ther rallies got finished by twelve o’clock and the entire afternoon was lost, what prevents them Mr. Speaker, for having these rallies, there is one schedule for this Friday I am told in Cayo, what prevent them from starting these rallies at two o’clock an dismissing school at one o’clock , if we are really concerned about the students Mr. Speaker, and about the quality of education in this country. If it is Mr. speaker that these rallies that are distracting the progress of our children in education are being held because they are not getting a raise then that is bogus because we know that the raise is coming, if it is that they are invoking industrial action Mr. speaker because the negotiation have broken down then that is a lie because I will tell that there is no breakdown in communication between the union and this government at any level so waht are they rallying for.”
And since the Minister of Education has no idea why teachers are protesting, Fort George Area Representative, Said Musa refreshed his memory.
Said Musa- Fort George Area Representative
“The one issue that I am raising today for the benefit of the honorable Minister of Education is that to ask the question why are these teachers protesting, why have they taking to the streets, that is a matter of national concern because the minister says he is puzzles he no understand it, he done so much for the teachers, he loves them, well Mr. speaker, if he loves them so much why is it that he spends so much time today trying to justify why he would called them and scold them and tell them you shouldn’t be on the street, you should be in the classroom, you are punishing the children and all this, in fact this minister of education has spent so much time as minister of education scolding the teachers, calling them all sorts of things; we have some good ones but we have a lot of bad ones, and we have to get rid of them, these are his words, is true no, it is true, well Mr. speaker where the teachers are raising a concern about what is this government doing, they are in the classroom trying to teach the children from right from wrong and here they are asking the question, here we have a glaring case of corruption in government where a former minister of state, not only signs a recommendation for a passport for a man languishing in jail in Taiwan, who never set foot in Belize, but also signed the nationality certificate, that is a matter of public record Mr. speaker, and the teachers want to know how this government and this prime minister who appoint those minister to sign those nationality certificate realizing now that this minister because he fires him from the cabinet, but is he stopping there, why is he and his government preventing a senate inquiry into this matter, why are they covering up for Elvin Penner, that is what the teaches want to know. The teachers want to know why you are Mr. Prime Minister, why are you covering up now, why are you covering up corruption right in your face, right in the face of the Belizean people that is what they want to know.”
Patrick Faber- Minister of Education
“Mr. Speaker, if speaking out against what is going wrong in terms of the teachers, performance and some of the actions, anybody who listens to me Mr. speaker knows that I don’t accuse all teachers of being molesters and drinkers and so on but Mr. speaker it is a fact that teachers, some teacher are molesting children in our schools, you don’t want me to say that, don’t you want me to say that teachers are going to school drunk, some teachers don’t up on Mondays and Wednesdays Mr. speaker, how is that attacking the teachers, but you know what if that is my sin then I will go down with that because if that is going to be the guts and the political will that it takes in order to change the system I won’t be like you, I will go on the record for making the tough decisions and saying the unpleasant things in order to fix our education system.”
Teachers are asking for a minimum of five-percent pay increase to be on par with the rising cost of living.
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