WITU head wants teachers’ rights respected

POSTED: 11/21/14 11:39 AM

St. Maarten—The rights of teachers to be respected and the rights of children to act responsibly were high on the agenda for union president Claire Elshot, as St. Maarten joined the rest of the world yesterday in observing International Day of the Rights of the Child.

International rights of the child has been observed for 35 years and while the teachers’ union president made it clear she is an advocate of these rights, she however stressed that what is lacking is the emphasis on teaching children to be respectful particularly of parents and teachers and to be responsible. She said children must make their parents and teachers proud through good behavior and by playing vital roles in their schools.

Elshot pointed out that as an educator she has come across numerous children over the years that are disruptive in the classroom, which she notes is disrespecting other pupils rights to an education. According to the president of the Windward Islands Teachers Union, when a child disrupts a class it takes time away from the lesson of the day since that time is spent getting the class back in order. She pointed out that these disruptions can keep a class off achieving their target. “The rights of children must be respected, but children must also respect the rights of other children, their parents and their teachers. They must be responsible and humble,” Elshot told members of the media at yesterday’s bi-weekly press conference of the Chamber of Labor Unions.

She particularly wants the rights of teachers to be respected which Unesco and other international bodies also advocates. While she believes that significant strives have been made in that area, she said there is still discrimination against certain groups of teachers.

As an example of this she cited a pet peeve—the lack of formal recognition of teachers involved in early childhood education. She noted that these persons are still not viewed as teachers are many and are still not part of the mainstream education. Elshot has had meetings with this group and has begun efforts on their behalf to have them formally recognized as members of the teaching profession and to be entitled to the same benefits as teachers in the mainstream education system.

To date 35 of these early childhood workers have signed up to the Witu and Elshot explained that she intends to have a meeting with the new Minister of Education as soon as that individual is named to discuss this matter and to lobby to have the rights of the early childhood educators recognized.

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