It may be a new school year filled with unbridled optimism on the part of parents, students, and others.
However, there are several outstanding matters affecting teachers that, if not addressed, could make the teaching and learning environment a bit difficult for all involved.
The last school year was fraught with a series of industrial actions by the educators who were showing their frustration over the failure on the part of the Ministry of Education on upgrades, school security, and other matters of national interest.
During a state media interview, President of the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers Casroy Charles lamented on some of the issues, he is hoping would be dealt with, before the end of the year.
According to him returning to school has been a sort of bittersweet moment for teachers who are concerned nothing has been done to improve their working environment.
“What are the teachers returning to? Has the environment they are working in improved? Imagine you going for a check-up with the doctor who has said These are your deficiencies this is what you need to do to improve them.
“However, you return to an environment that will cause a relapse, so exactly how productive is that,” Charles said.
Looking deeper into the issues, he spoke about school security, and their Collective Bargaining Agreement indicating that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Charles said some persons are of the view that they are just agitating for money which is just one of the many issues.
He argued,” If we are under-equipped as teachers, how productive can we be in the classroom? We speak about a 21st-century working environment; however, the environment does not equip you to operate in that sphere”.
The issue of school security became the hot bottom during the previous school year amid school year due to a series of vandalism that occurred.
Charles acknowledged that they are nowhere near resolving the matter, but each school’s staff representatives have been advised on the necessary protocols to follow if something is observed.
On the issue of the Collective agreement, they have agreed in principle to several things, however, talks continue to arrive at a further consensus on the paternity level and other benefits.
There is progress on the retroactive pay and upgrades for teachers.