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Message to the Nation by the Minister for Education, Human Resource Development & Religious Affairs Hon. Emmalin Pierre


Wednesday, November 21, 2018 11:27 AM- George's, Grenada
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ST. GEORGE, GRENADA, NOV. 20, 2018 – Ladies and gentlemen, I take the opportunity, yet again, to address the nation in my capacity as Minister for Education.
The decision by the Grenada Union of Teachers, to undertake industrial action, in response to Government’s proposal, has resulted in significant disruption to schools throughout Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.


This disruption in the academic program and the stated intention to intensify actions, such as not marking SBAs; not participating in sporting activities, to name a few, will only have more negative effects, on our nation’s children.


The decision, by the unions, to walk away from the negotiating table, came amidst talk on pension restoration and reformation - a discussion that was initiated, by this Government, after more than 35 years.


Our Government’s commitment to this difficult process remains and we are still confident that a solution will be found, sooner rather than later.

Restoration and reformation of pensions is a central part of Government’s current labour policy and teachers can look forward to retirement, knowing that they would be much better off than it seemed likely just a few months ago.


However, we all must appreciate that in this ongoing process we must consider the position and interest of everyone, including our precious children and their future.


From the standpoint of the Ministry of Education, we have been concerned about the many days our children have been left unsupervised, as well as the additional pressure placed on many parents, about the issue of supervision and caregiving.


This state of affairs has also put severe hardship on parents and many of them, our fellow workers, who have had to skip work, to ensure that their children are safe and secure.

This has had severe financial implications, for many of our families. These parents, so inconvenienced, must not have to choose between job security and their children’s safety.


Furthermore, thousands of our students are losing valuable classroom contact time.

Our appeal to teachers is to consider all of these points, as we urge them to return to the classrooms and to avoid further disruptions of the school term.


My appeal is sincere and on the basis that staying away will not get us to where we want to be and that is the point of resolution.


We urge the GUT leadership to return to the negotiating table – the only place where differences between the Pension Engagement Committee and the Union can be adequately dealt with.


Government is and will always be committed to harmonious labour relations and stand ready to return to the negotiating table.
We are confident that we can come together and find solutions, to difficult problems, even while we continue to work, for the benefit of our children. The nation’s children are counting on all of us to be mature, to be responsible and committed.


We appreciate that there are many problems in the education sector – problems that go way beyond the issue of teacher benefits – however, I am pleased that we have opened up a dialogue, that will help facilitate all of us in realistically and boldly confronting all of those challenges.


These extremely successful consultations have left to a first draft of a map, for the immediate way forward.

As a former teacher myself, I appreciate and understand the many difficult situations and I continue to remain inspired and motivated, by the unquestioned dedication of many of our teachers, especially those who have chosen to report to work, during the last two weeks.


This dialogue that we have started must continue and not even the current challenges must weaken our resolve, nor cause us to resort to bitterness and recriminations. Looking ahead, we must always be able to separate the issues and deal with them accordingly.


We are confident that the one thing that unites us, in the education system, is our unquestioned love for all of the nation’s children.


I remain hopeful and respectful that we can move forward together.

May we all learn to trust in the Lord with all of our hearts, never leaning on our own understanding. May we always acknowledge Him in all of our ways, so that he can direct our path.
I thank you very much.


 

 

 

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