Education Ministry now managing teachers’ scholarships, duty-free concessions

…as complaints pile up over GTU threats

In light of the threats some teachers have been receiving and continuous complaints of having their scholarships revoked for their non-participation in the ongoing protests against the Government’s vaccination policy, a decision was taken to have the scholarship and duty-free concessions for teachers initiative managed by the Education Ministry.
In a statement by the Education Ministry on Tuesday, it was stated that these benefits were “meant to serve teachers. Not to attack them. Not to discriminate against them. The Government of Guyana is hereby reverting these two programmes to the Ministry of Education. Hereon the Ministry of Education shall conduct and manage this programme as obtains in other Government agencies with similar benefits.”
The Government through the Education Ministry had established a facility along with the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) to offer 50 scholarships and 100 duty-free concessions to the nation’s teachers. This programme was intended to assist and further serve teachers and provide them with additional benefits as they continue to provide excellent service to the educational system.
The complaints which are said to have once stemmed from the mismanagement of the system by the Union, have now elevated to the benefits being used as weapons to threaten teachers to participate in activities organised by the GTU, failing which, members are informed openly and subtly that they will not be a recipient or continuing recipient of a scholarship nor of a duty-free concession.
These reports are said to have come from teachers who are duly qualified to receive these benefits.
However, the strike action by some teachers which started last Wednesday, led by executives of the GTU and A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) parliamentarian Coretta McDonald, who is also the GTU General Secretary, due to the new requirement of teachers having to be vaccinated or present a negative PCR test in order to resume face-to-face learning, led to teachers that would have been vaccinated and refused to join the movement being somewhat subliminally or openly threatened with having their scholarships taken away.
To this effect, the Ministry made it clear that these benefits will continue to be granted to teachers, as they will still be able to access the scholarships and duty-free concessions at the stated amount per year and will continue to benefit from these programmes, thus realising the true intent of the programme, but in an organised, fair and transparent manner.
After being closed for more than a year, some schools in Guyana reopened on September 6 for face-to-face classes. The Union said that unvaccinated teachers were locked out of school buildings. The Union, however, is also against the reopening of schools until safety protocols are agreed with the Union for the protection of teachers and students. Pointing to the rise in COVID-19 deaths and positive cases, the GTU said it believes that it was unsafe to fully reopen schools for face-to-face learning.