Elshot calls for substitutes and building repairs

POSTED: 06/15/12 12:25 PM

St. Maarten – “You could close 90 percent of public schools if we truly apply the Code of Occupational Health and Safety.” That is the assessment made by President of the Windward Islands Teachers Union Claire Elshot.

“Teachers are working in extreme conditions. We must find a structural solution,” Elshot said.

The revelation about the state of the buildings and the stress on the extreme conditions was part of a wider argument for teacher absenteeism. That matter is in the limelight this week because the management of the Martin Luther King Jr. School sent home students after seven teachers reported sick. The move to send the children home enraged their parents, who took their complaints to another daily newspaper. Those complaints enraged teachers at, amongst others, M. Genevieve de Weever School and Oranje School and they called on Elshot to publicly address the matter.

“Fact is seven teachers were sick so the school’s management sent the children home. Teachers are also frustrated with parents who don’t attend information sessions and who don’t come to collect their children’s report card,” Elshot said.

The union leader believes that having a good pool of well trained substitute teachers will help ensure that children have consistent education. Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Silveria Jacobs also believes that this is a solution for the current absenteeism issues.

Elshot also believes that parents need to become more active and more thankful.

“When one or two teachers are sick the students are split up and this creates extra work for the teacher who has to take them. No one thanks the teachers for taking on this extra work. More and more you see parents using the school as a holding area. I would like parents to step up and take a check of the situation,” Elshot said.

Later she’d add, “It’s unfair to paint all teachers with a broad brush. It (sending students home because of teacher absenteeism) is not happening every month. We should look for a solution.”

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