Elshot: Teachers need legal protection against violence

POSTED: 08/22/13 12:34 PM

St. Maarten – Just back from the Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT) 36th Biennial Conference that was held in Georgetown Guyana from August 4 to 9, president of the Windward Islands Teachers Union Claire Elshot says that violence against teachers is a regional problem.

“The violence against teachers is growing in our secondary schools. We have heard horror stories in this Caribbean where teachers are now totally enabled because of the damages and wounds that have been inflicted on them at the hands of students. It’s no more an excuse that the legislators cannot put legislation in place to protect teachers from violence,” Elshot stated.

The conference was held under the theme Improving the Professional Status of Teachers in the Caribbean with Elshot noting that the conference was of a very high standard with warm hospitality and participation from a number of unions.

“At that conference there were a number of resolutions. It started first as a Status of Women Conference. At that conference it was so overwhelming to hear, it was resounding throughout the Caribbean via the teachers union exactly what we in St. Maarten were going through and what we prepared  which was “No More Words. Time for Action. Stop the Violence Against Teachers. The information that came from that conference really showed that this not an isolated island of St. Maarten problem. Whereas the resolution that came from that conference, it means that we will have Caribbean-wide action on this point,” Elshot explained.

Elshot recounted an incident that took place earlier this year in Guyana where students in the town of Linden tied a desk in the air over a classroom door. When a young female teacher walked into the classroom, it released the entrapment and the desk fell on her.  That teacher has to seek medical attention for her injuries.

“Therefore serious effort has to be made on national level to have each individual country make legislation where teachers can be protected and these kinds of students can be either punished or the violence can be curtailed to a minimum of zero tolerance,” the union leader said.

St. Maarten was represented by the president and vice president of WITU. They joined colleagues from countries such as Anguilla, Antigua, Bahamas, Bermuda, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti and Suriname.

Other issues discussed at the conference included, Caricom, the establishment of teaching councils, upgrading of CXC standards and teachers compensation for the marking of school based assessments (SBA).

The conference ended with a revised version of the constitution and code of ethics of the CUT.


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