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Oswald Robinson

President of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union, Oswald Robinson. (iWN file photo)

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The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU) has rejected what it says are suggestions by some members of the public that teachers’ salaries be cut because they are not in the classroom.

Teachers in SVG have, largely, been engaging students in classes online, and SVGTU President, Oswald Robinson, told a press conference on Friday, that this is more taxing and expensive for teachers.

“I am hearing in, the public, people speaking about some teachers not teaching and cut their salary and these sorts of things. We need to understand that teachers are part of the society,” Robinson said.

“And not because you are a teacher, that does not mean that you have high-speed internet. There are some teachers who are operating on a $50 internet per month.  That’s what they can afford,” he said.

Robinson’s comments came as he outlined some of the challenges that teachers face in delivering their lessons online.

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He, however, said that the majority of teachers have been trying to reach their students.

“But when they log on, they also have students in their home that have to log on to the internet and it slows down.”

The union head said that twice the previous week there was a power outage while teachers were in the heart of their online classes.

He questioned whether these were as a result of emergencies and whether the power company could have issued a broadcast, so that teachers could adjust their timetables.

Robinson noted that the internet is powered by the municipal supply of electricity and when there is a power outage, the internet also goes down.

He further said there are still too many students without internet access and electricity.

“And the whole question of nutrition is also critical,” he said, adding that the union’s experience is that there are students who do not go to school if they don’t have a meal and, therefore, rely on the School Feeding Programme.

Robinson said that many of these students are now at home in households where their parents are unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“So we are saying that teachers are overworked. I know there are some administrators who were asking teachers to produce two hours per day.”

He said that some people got it wrong thinking it was two-three hours per teacher per day.

“It takes a lot of planning to prepare, especially with the students who are in the lower levels, early childhood. You have to browse the internet and select age appropriate activities,” he said.

He said that parents still have to monitor what their children are doing online with their devices so as to not be exposed to inappropriate content.

“So parental guidance now in cyberspace is something that is critical. So teachers are overwhelmed; parents are overwhelmed; children are overwhelmed.

“Teachers have to spend more time using their electricity because they have to spend more time on the internet and the internet doesn’t work on fire coals. It works on electricity, which they have to pay.”

Robinson said there is an increase in the cost of basic food items.

“If you go to the supermarket now, you will see things there that you … have seen over the past, like last year, a lot of those items …have gone up. Teachers have to buy food too. Teachers have to pay their bills. They have to travel.”

He said that the union was not making a case for preferential treatment for teachers.

“… sometimes when we speak for our membership, people in the public feel, ‘Oh, everybody have to live’. Yes, our responsibility, we are speaking for our members but we are also taking a balanced approach because we … have given a voice to people who are, more or less, voiceless or have nobody representing them.

“We have spoken to categories of workers which have no representation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, because teachers have relationships with these people also.”

Robinson said it is important that the public understand how teachers have to operate from home now.

“Nobody has come to the assistance of the teacher and say let me give you something that you could pad a room, a little 2×4 space in your home that you can launch your platform from and teach from there.

“You still have to teach either from your sitting room or your bedroom. And you have other children around you too and the distraction. All those are issues teachers have to deal with because people want to access you online, how you manage the virtual classroom. You have no control over the background noise. It’s your home.”

He asked whether teachers now have time to prepare their meals because they have to be teaching online.

Robinson said that some secondary schools “have gone completely far away from the basic psychology when it comes to online teaching and learning”.

These schools, he said, are following, online, the same timetable that they did for face-to-face teaching.

“There are some schools that are operating as normal, normal school hours: 8, 8:30 [a.m.] right up to 3 [p.m.], doing online teaching all those hours.

“And the Ministry of Education knows, in one of our first virtual meetings with them, they approved and they confirmed that you are not supposed to do all those amount of hours teaching online. So it is impacting on the health of our teachers, our students, it is a lot more costly now, and nobody is coming to the assistance of teachers,” he said. 

“Now we are hearing people in the public saying, ‘Oh, pay them half salary because they are at home sitting down not doing anything.’ That is far from the truth. If there is any teacher who is not online teaching, then it is a minority,” he said.

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4 replies on “Union rejects public’s suggestion of salary cut for teachers”

  1. Avatar Of Monica A RosaMonica A Rosa says:

    The people in saint Vincent who are running their mouth about the teachers are very uneducated and will like because of this lockdown the children of the country come out like them with no education. Foolish like them and always have something to say when they dont their axxs from their elbow..

  2. I think all teachers should be reporting to school and social distance two teacher per room like how it was precovid just without the students. That way they get the NTRC wifi. Cause slow wifi is not an excuse to be absent from classes every other day. Then they taking a day for salaries??!! Then they cussing parents with voice notes and quit teaching the class leaving one half competent teacher who is hardly online!!!! And still getting paid. Full pay!!!!!!!
    WHEN TEACHERS ARE IN SCHOOL THEY ON NTRC INTERNET ALL DAY ON WHATS APP IN CLASS, NEVER USED THE EXCUSE TO SAY IM IN CLASS CANT TALK. BUT THEY NOW USING EXCUSE OH INTERNET SLOW CANT TEACH. AND SAY THEY DONT HAVE INTERNET BUT ON FB AND WHATS APP ALL DAY AND NOT IN CLASS SMH.

    Who suffering now? The kids. But stay there and study to pay teachers who are not even doing their work…. While the kids have no classes or next to no classes every week.

    And I am talking about my daughters GRADE FOUR TEACHERS !!

    IS THIS THE SO CALLED EDUCATION REVOLUTION??????

    DUMBING DOWN OUR CHILDREN AND PAY TEACHERS WHO ARENT EVEN TEACHING.

  3. Why the public don’t look at government ministers??, They have their salary plus travel, transportation,pleasure time and house allowances,,some don’t even own a house but still receive house allowances,,
    They the ones who needs to make a sacrifice in hard times,,some of them,are not doing their jobs because they also sits on other bards making extra income,,,also this government has too much
    unnecessary portfolioo which puts a strain on svg budget.

  4. this online class is a waste of time,these kids home they not learning anything from this its like playing another video game,how these kids are being graded and i would like to know when the time comes for students to move to a higher class what would be the criteria to do so,because my internet is so slow it can even load a video,its not the teachers fault,but i am sure there will be alot of upset parents if there children fail to be promoted because of this pandemic,internet in svg is a disaster especially flow they should remove the letter f from the front of the word and put the letter s because thats what it is (slow).

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