Education Minister backs plan for substitute teachers

Education Minister Emmalin Pierre says she is fully behind a plan to establish national learning Centres as a contingency measure against striking teachers.

Pierre spoke to me exclusively about the plan, which was first presented by Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell in a national address this week regarding the current industrial battle with public servants and teachers.

Teachers had stayed away from the classroom for ten days over three weeks, forcing parents to keep children at home.

In a bizarre and surprising twist the Prime Minister said his Parliamentarians would teach at these centres.

But according to the minister of education government will employ retirees and others, while the fifteen Parliamentarians would volunteer their expertise in various academic disciplines to give support to the programme.

Pierre said her education officers worked through the weekend to formulate the plan which was presented to Cabinet on Monday and approved.

“Yes and in the first instance we are targeting students who are preparing for external exams,” she explained.

Pierre said during the strike, which ended Monday, some teachers were showing up for class but most were at home and following an emergency meeting called by the Prime Minister her ministry spent the weekend formulating the contingency plan.

Asked whether government can mobilize the human resources needed to pull this off Pierre said she is confident.

“You see I have two choices, to wait patiently or to do something temporary and we will do the temporary in the interest of the children,”she said.

Pierre said her ministry is being proactive so that in the event the industrial dispute is prolonged school can continue.

At the weekend meeting the ministry of education was mandated to establish cluster schools and to engage retired teachers and other persons to manage the Centres with supervision from education officers.

The minister they are also working on creating a pool of substitute teachers.
Grenada has over four hundred schools at primary and secondary levels.

The affiliated unions involved in the negotiations for gratuity agreed Monday to resume talks, calling off the strike.

The Unions are asking that government pay a 25% gratuity and with government stuck at 2% up until a few days ago industrial action seemed set to escalate even further.

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