KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Minister of Housing Clayton Burgin remains unmoved: the three teacher who ran last year for the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) should not be reemployed by the government.
Further, according to the East St. George representative and former education minister, the NDP is not concerned about these teachers.
“… why should we should be concerned? Why should I be concerned?” he said at a Unity Labour Party (ULP) rally in Biabou on Sunday.
“I said what I had to say sometime ago in Glen and I would stand by what I said,” Burgin told party supporters.
He was responding to a letter in last weekend’s newspapers by Elvis Daniel, one of the three teachers who were not reemployed by the government after they resigned to contest the December 2010 elections on behalf of the NDP.
Daniel ran in North Windward for a second time, while Ken Johnson ran against Prime Minister Gonsalves in North Central Windward and Addison “Bash” Thomas lost in South Central Windward.
Daniel, who has first and master’s degrees in maths and 31 years of experience teaching the subject, including at the university level, said that the record proves that he is a good math teacher.
He said his students returned 12 of the 26 Grade 1’s in maths units 1 and 2 at the Community College.
Daniel is on the breadline even as Gonsalves recently said that the O’ Level maths result for 2010 in all 26 secondary schools was disappointing and that he had asked the Ministry of Education to address the issue.
But Burgin noted on Sunday that Daniel was reemployed in 2005 when he resigned to contest the elections and resigned again last year.
“He think this thing is a pappy-show business? … He so loving and caring about these children that on the 13th of December he gave them up, leave them there and run for politics. He didn’t consider the rest of the week in December to finish off the term with those children …” Burgin said.
“Comrades, had he won his seat and his government won the election, you think he would have given up a ministerial position to go back in the classroom to teach mathematics?” Burgin continued.
“So, how come they talking about ‘Oh he is a good teacher’? If they want to say give him a job, say so. But don’t talk ‘bout he is a wonderful teacher,” added Burgin, a former teacher.
Burgin said that NDP president and Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace “has three jobs that he could have given to those teachers”.
He was speaking of the two senatorial positions and that of research officer.
Burgin said that Eustace has given these positions to a person who did not run — Sen. Anesia Baptiste, and another person who has a job — Sen. Vynnette Frederick, a lawyer.
“Why didn’t he use those three positions for those three persons (three teachers)? And you are telling me that you love them and you complaining and cussing the ULP because these persons ain’t get back a job as yet?” Burgin said.
Burgin made it clear that he is not happy with talks about the unemployed teachers.
“Comrades, when I hear person talk with these sort of things it does really get me rile you know. And I said from 2009 with the referendum I am not holding back you know. I am not going to say things that will degrade anyone and anything towards this party but I am saying what I have to say,” he further stated.
Meanwhile, former national security minister and retired politician Sir Vincent Beache, speaking at the same rally, said Daniel was a “very good maths teacher” before the 2005 elections.
“He resigned and ran for elections, lost, came back, he got his job back. But attitude … then changed completely,” said Beache.
“… there was no commitment and we might as well not have him because he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to do and all that was happening was that he was getting paid for doing a job that he was not doing efficiently and effectively,” Beache said.
Beache, who has worked in government positions in since retiring, further said that Ken Johnson, who ran against Gonsalves, had one more year before retirement but resigned and ran “without having adequate compensation”.
He said that Johnson sacrificed a gratuity of more than EC$80,000 and a pension of about EC$3,000 per month.
“You mean you don’t consider this? You aint got a sense and you want to come represent people,” Beache said.
“That is why I am saying you can’t loose your way and you can’t turn fool when you reach the crossroad. Because that is exactly what Ken Johnson did when he turned a big fool when he reach the crossroad,” Beache further stated.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Eustace said on Monday that he has taken steps, which have not been made public, to try to have the matter resolved.
He said the teachers are highly qualified and described Daniel as “dedicated”.
“You talk to students anywhere who have worked under Mr. Daniel and all of them talk about him. You have heard parents call in on this programme lauding his praises but he can’t get a job,” Eustace said on the NDP’s radio programme.
“… But you have people who have retired here donkey years ago who are well eligible for pension and gratuity, who are making large sums of money while wasting time and you have people like Mr. Daniel, Johnson and Bash … just hanging.”
He said the teachers’ situation is also a legal problem, even as he noted that the NDP rehired Agriculture Minister Montgomery Daniel when he ran against the party and lost.