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Teachers face multiple problems

Emmalin Pierre – the Member of Parliament for St. Andrew South-east who currently holds the portfolio of Minister of Education

The Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) has called for an urgent meeting with the Ministry of Education to raise concerns over a number of issues affecting teachers who have been asked to return to their schools for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic.

According to GUT President, Marvin Andall, the union’s executive members met on Thursday to look at several issues that are currently resulting in frustration for teachers.

THE NEW TODAY understands that among the issues are a problematic M-Star platform for teachers to communicate with students and their parents, as well as a lack of a clear policy guideline from the ministry on how the schools should submit report cards to parents on the performance of their children for the academic year.

Andall said that the meeting will be held on the zoom platform today (Monday) at 3.00 p.m. with officials from the Ministry of Education “to raise these very concerns”.

A head teacher in the St. Andrew area said that his school is faced with a myriad of problems and it is being compounded by a lack of clear policy directives from the Ministry of Education.

He said the classrooms are empty of students due to the COVID-19 lockdown of the country but the teachers have been asked to report to school and for head teachers to give the ministry a daily report on those teachers who show up for work as opposed to those who are absent.

He stated that some teachers were inclined to do up the report cards of the students in hard copy and for parents to come to the school at scheduled times to pick them up.

According to the school principal, this had to be abandoned after a public statement made on radio by Education Minister Emmalin Pierre in which she announced that no parent will be allowed on the school compound.

He also alluded to instructions received from officials of the Ministry of Education for the schools to send out e-reports to parents at a time when not all of them have computers and email addresses.

“If they want that (to) happen then we will have to get email addresses for parents. I also told them that I am not comfortable sending a child’s report card via WhatsApp,” he remarked.

On the issue of preventing parents from coming onto the school compound, the head teacher pointed out that he now has to write to the ministry on how he plans to get the student’s report card to the parents.

The principal stressed that the teachers have now been given additional responsibility to contact all parents individually to get their email addresses from them.

“So who have email address will get a report card in their email address, and who can’t submit one ain’t getting no report card and no book list,” he said.

The teacher described as “stupidness” the kinds of directives now coming out from the Ministry of Education on the way forward for the schools in the Covid-19 period.

He also commented on the plans announced by the ministry to bring into the classroom for the use of students those tablets with “e-books on it but we giving book lists as normal”.

“We went to school Monday and trying to access the platform from the school (but) apparently the platform is blocked. Every time we put in the platform address the thing coming up and say, ok, you don’t have permission to use the network with this platform.”

According to the head teacher, it appears that either M-Star or Digicel is blocking access to the platform and causing more frustration for teachers.

The principal said that he had plans to do a one-on-one with teachers on the M-Star platform during the past week but had to abandon it because some of them are experiencing problems in using it.

“We cannot get through to use it” he added.

According to the principal the ministry is also asking the schools to outline what plans they have for the re-opening of school in September and “if we doing a shift system or a staggered system”.

“We must write to the ministry outlining how we plan for September for the re-opening of school – you hear more stupidness,” he said.

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