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Dear Editor: As a newly qualified teacher, I have waited for the last seven months to receive my upgrade and subsequent backpay from the government of St. Lucia, to no avail.
The 2018 cohort of newly qualified teachers were hired and placed into schools in September 2018 on the premise that the government knew we had met the requirements of our teacher training programme. However, we were told that since we were not in possession of our certificates we would be upgraded when we presented them to the ministry after graduation. This turned out to be a lie.
After much agitation by newly qualified teachers concerning their upgrade, the HR (human resource) department in the Ministry of Education informed us that our upgrade was not processed as the ministry was in negotiations with the teachers’ union. That turned out to be another lie!!!
The union released a statement indicating that they were never negotiating with the ministry and demanded that the Ministry of Education stop the unfair punishment being meted out to newly qualified teachers by withholding our upgrade and backpay.
At the union meeting dated Monday 11th March 2019, newly qualified teachers were informed that the Ministry has in fact stopped the tradition of upgrading newly qualified teachers, as well as providing us with our well-deserved backpay. Not once has the ministry publicly informed us of these changes!!!
I feel disrespected as a teacher and I am rightfully pissed off. If the Ministry of Education sees it fit to pay me (a qualified teacher) the same peasant salary I was getting before I became qualified, then what exactly was the purpose of me going to teachers’ college for TWO years to become a trained teacher?!!
What then is the point of having qualified teachers in schools if the government isn’t willing to pay us for our sacrifices?!! The government might as well pull random people off the street and place them into classrooms to teach because it appears that being qualified has no value in their eyes.
It is easy for parents to bash teachers and vilify us on social-media platforms while they remain ignorant of the extent to which we suffer every day. Teachers are expected to be surrogate parents, mentors, care takers, nurses, counsellors and disciplinarians to a generation of children that have become more difficult to manage by the day.
Teachers give life to all other professions on this earth, yet the government of St. Lucia thinks it can treat us like prostitutes, giving us the money they want and not the money we deserve.
THIS IS NOT A NEGOTIATION
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
WE WANT OUR MONEY
The government is NOT going to get away with treating us like second-class citizens.
A pissed off teacher