The President of the Saint Lucia Teachers Union ( SLTU), Julian Monrose, has accused Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, of seeking to ridicule the professional qualifications of teachers, by indicating recently that the problem with the education system is that teachers are not sufficiently qualified.
Monrose pointed out that the Certificate or Associate Degree in teacher education, which determines that a teacher is qualified, is provided by Sir Arthur Lewis Community College and endorsed by the University of the West Indies (UWI), through the joint Board of Teacher Education of the Eastern Caribbean.
‘It is a regional qualification that determines whether you can practice in the teaching profession as a qualified teacher,’ he stated.
He observed that many teachers pursue further study and many are not upgraded by the Ministry of Education.
‘We are aware that Sir Arthur Lewis Community College used to offer a two year degree in teacher education – mathematics,language and other areas and in 2017, the government withdrew support for that programme, so that full time programme that helped teachers has been withdrawn,’ the SLTU official said.
However Monrose observed that teachers continue to do online courses because they understand that the more qualified they are, the better contribution they can make to the education system.
Monrose recalled that Chastanet had indicated that he was not going to spend money on repairing or building new schools until there is a new curriculum.
‘The truth is, it takes time and it is a lengthy process developing a new curriculum. So we understand by that that the Prime Minister is saying that the government will continue to allow students and teachers to be in deplorable conditions until we have a new curriculum,’ he said.
‘That makes absolutely no sense,’ the SLTU President declared.
He compared the situation to a parent telling a child that the house roof will not be repaired until the child makes his bed.
‘These are two separate issues – yes the union supports the continued review of curricula, but we also say that schools must be safe and the environment must be healthy for students,’ Monrose asserted.
He asserted that Saint Lucian teachers have started the new academic year unhappy because the deplorable condition of some school buildings has not been addressed.
‘The Ministry of Education had promised the union that they would have done some work on some of the schools over the Christmas vacation, but that has not been done,’ Monrose lamented.
He observed that as a result, some schools continue to deteriorate.
Monrose explained that the SLTU wants students to be educated in a healthy and safe environment.
‘We keep saying that to the Ministry of Education,’ he disclosed.