– Advertisement –
The Saint Lucia Teachers Union (SLTU) has expressed concern over the manner of reviewing the country’s Education Act 2005.
President Don Howell emphasised that the Union is not against reviewing the Act.
Nevertheless, he said the SLTU believes there should be consultation and not only discussions.
Howell asserted that there’s a fundamental difference between the two.
“The Act will affect everyone in Saint Lucia. Importantly, it impacts the practitioners, including teachers, principals and counselors,” he noted.
The SLTU President said those individuals would be expected to operationalise the Act.
As a result, he stated that consultation should be thorough.
“One-time meetings and town hall presentations are not enough,” Howell asserted.
He recalled that when the Ministry of Education began speaking about reviewing the Education Act, the SLTU stressed the need for thoroughness and comprehensive consultation.
Howell said the SLTU gave the Ministry’s Consultants suggestions, indicating the need for further reviews with the Union as the discussion advanced.
He said that to raise awareness, the SLTU invited a Ministry Consultant to the Union’s Education Conference in October 2023.
“Although this was not a decision-making meeting, it provided an opportunity for the Consultants to gather some recommendations,” Howell observed.
He said one recommendation that stood out was the need for more consultation since short, one-hour sessions would not allow in-depth discussion on the Act.
“The Consultant agreed and the Consultant also shared that they had only engaged 500 people at that time,” the SLTU President recounted.
He stated that following the Union’s recommendation for more discussion, the SLTU noticed a town hall meeting schedule but no engagement for teachers and principals.
Howell declared that the employer has a responsibility to engage employees.
He said the SLTU requested proper consultation with teachers and principals.
But he said the Ministry indicated the teachers and principals could join the town hall meetings set up for the public.
“The SLTU was astonished at the level of regard that was given to teachers and principals regarding the Education Act Review. The Ministry of Education’s team was reluctant to have engagements specifically for teachers and principals,” the Union President noted.
He said to the SLTU it demonstrated a lack of respect.
In addition, Howell said the SLTU believed that teachers and principals should be engaged again regarding the final Education Act draft so they understand what the final document contains.
“The current meetings will discuss the proposals, but there will still be a gap because the final draft document will be different from what the stakeholders are currently discussing,” he stated.
Howell stated that if the document excluded or did not include some ideas, the stakeholders presenting them would deserve to know why.
“The practitioners deserve the same level of engagement as everyone else,” he stated.
He also asked when teachers, principals, and other practitioners could review what the Consultants have gathered from all the group discussions and the ‘little meetings’ they probably would have had with teachers.
Howell said the SLTU has written to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education seeking her intervention.
He stated that the SLTU would continue playing its part and would not allow the Ministry of Education to diminish the role of teachers.