“The only lies for which we are truly punished are those we tell ourselves.” V. S. Naipaul
Teachers are not to be blamed for the empty classrooms at the beginning of the school term tomorrow. The problem is the structure of the system in which they operate and our support of that system through ignorance or silence. Part of the solution is to ensure that teaching is a well-paid position and that our educators benefit from the best opportunities for professional development.
I do not take it lightly when political leaders attempt to use a moral position to shame teachers out of a strike. Shame is not a solution. We must learn to manage our differences in productive ways. Productivity should be highest when conflict is at its peak. We must learn to manage and resolve our differences in ways which increase our productivity as a people. This is an opportunity for our leaders to demonstrate that they understand this and to show us how it’s done.
Guyana cannot continue to squabble in its own house while the rest of the world is watching. If we are a house divided against itself, the world will make easy work of eating us alive. Oil has put us on the map again and promises a second chance at becoming a leader in the region and an example to the rest of the world in much bigger ways. If we are to secure our place in the world and the future of generations to come, we must all commit to a clear vision for Guyana that is supported by everyone regardless of skin colour, religious preference, class, political loyalty or anything else which separates us.
There was a strike during my third year of high school in 2003. The teachers at St Stanislaus College who stood their ground during that year taught me how to stand up for my rights. A few years later I graduated in the top ten of my Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) class and after that I was among the ten best performing Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) students in the country. The same teachers who went on strike spent many extra hours working with me, caring for me. I am because they are, because we are.
Taking Guyana into the future requires serious investment in building the capacity of our people to meet our arising needs and addressing the high migration rates, particularly of University of Guyana graduates. We cannot do this without investing heavily in teachers who are the heart and soul of the education system.
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This article is not meant to advance any position on behalf of any political party or any other entity or group. It is part of a collection of commentary and analysis – expressed in simple language by a young Guyanese – made available for anyone interested in learning and thinking more deeply about the types of solutions needed to address the issues arising from Guyana’s current political state.
A note from the Author:
Given the custom by party loyalists to misrepresent and misuse any type of political commentary to support their own positions, I feel that it is necessary to borrow the following from Thomas Paine (an English-born American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary) with whose work I became acquainted as a student of History at the University of Guyana:
Who the Author of this Production is, is wholly unnecessary to the Public, as the Object for Attention is the Doctrine itself, not the Woman. Yet it may not be unnecessary to say, That she is unconnected with any Party, and under no sort of Influence public or private, but the influence of reason and principle.
Craig Village, East Bank Demerara, September 02, 2018
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