Poor turnout at Teachers’ Union March, Rally
November 27, 2012
Poor turnout at Teachers’ Union March, Rally

The annual solidarity march and rally put on by the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union (SVGTU) saw a poor turnout{{more}} on November 16 even as the group’s president said its membership has increased since the election of the new executive in April.

Schools were given a half-day, so that teachers could attend the solidarity march and rally at Heritage Square, but only a few teachers showed up at the event, which sought to commemorate the 1975 march, in which teachers were tear-gassed while protesting for better working conditions and better wages among other issues.

The event was held under the theme: “Taking a stand for teachers.”

In his address, president of the SVGTU Oswald Robinson told the small gathering that under his leadership, the union will regain its strength and will be a force to be reckoned with.

“We have gone through a period of dormancy. There are some people who are focusing on the immediate past, but we have to look at what we are doing now… I have regained strength and vigour and I have a clear vision of this organisation,” Robinson said.

With over 50 new registered members since April, Robinson said the the executive has made progress and has gained a lot.

He added that sometimes, society has a narrow view of their role and their function as a professional organisation and trade union.

He noted their standing committees have been revived and made it clear that they are going to reclaim their identity.

“Don’t make anybody tamper with the identity of the Teachers’ Union. Our identity is registered in our logo,” he said.

He said the union has met with the powers that be to discuss several issues relating to teachers.

“We said you have 65 positions for graduates in the primary schools. We said you have to expand and open up more so that more of our graduates who have been graduated for years and nothing was done. We are saying open up. We need more positions…”

He noted that many teachers are becoming frustrated and that it is affecting their morale.

“We are interested in the development of our teachers,” Robinson said.

Sharing brief remarks, public relations officer Vibert Lampkin said the fortitude and resilience that teachers displayed in the 1975 march appears to be dwindling.

“As a teachers’ union, we can’t afford to not to be resilient and can’t afford not to be in solidarity with each other. If we go down that pathway, doom will be our destiny,” he stated.

Delivering the feature address, president of the Caribbean Union of Teachers Marvin Andall said there can be no quality education without competent and motivated teachers.

He added that teachers need to be given a voice on educational policies and teaching methods.

“Too often, policies of education are developed by persons who have never taught. Too often research used to support these methods have been proven flawed or the research has been manipulated,” Andall stated.(KW)