The President of Saint Lucia Teachers Union [SLTU] Julian Monrose has taken umbrage with Prime Minister Allen Chastanet’s rational for reportedly withholding funds for refurbishment and maintenance works on public school buildings.
Prime Minister Chastanet in a November press conference in response to complaints from teachers and parents on deteriorating conditions at public schools implored officials in the Department of Education to “modernize” the local school syllabus.While not discounting the need for a review of the curriculum, the SLTU President in a January 9th HTS News4orce interview expressed bewilderment at the Prime Minister’s directive and rebuffed the comments stating,
“…schools must be safe and, the environment must be healthy.”
The 2017/18 academic year got off to a rocky start last September with parents and teachers publicly expressing discontent with government’s efforts to address crumbling public school infrastructure. The outcry prompted ‘emergency’ meetings by public school officials including the National Principals’ Association.
The SLTU President also rebuffed what he regarded as the Prime Minister’s “ridicule” of the academic qualifications of local educations. Monrose defended the training and qualification process offered at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College [SALCC] that is regionally endorsed by the University of the West Indies [UWI]. The SLTU President criticized the Allen Chastanet led Cabinet for reportedly withdrawing support for a two-year teaching program at SALCC.
“…but yet teachers continue to do online courses…so it was very, very unfortunate that the Prime Minister would take that kind of position.”
The deterioration of school infrastructure has been a long-standing problem for successive administrations.
Data from the 2017/18 Estimates confirm more than $14 million was budgeted for school building maintenance over the period 2015/16. Less than $2 million has been allocated to the Education Ministry in the ‘Forward Estimates’ for the 2017/18 year.
The SLTU is demanding better leadership at the Department of Education and has urged the Prime Minister to redirect his focus.
“…most of the people in the Ministry of Education who are giving directives and determine policy themselves are not qualified in education.”