General — 16 May 2014 — by Adele Ramos

The Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU) has issued a statement rebutting suggestions that the National Teachers Day rally which was to have been held in Benque this Friday fell through because of spite on the part of the BNTU, which wrote the Ministry saying that it was unable to come up with the 30% contribution requested towards the expenses.

Minister of Education Patrick Faber told the media on Tuesday that the BNTU had given a contribution of $24,000 in 2009, and the Ministry thought it reasonable to expect a similar contribution towards the $116,000 budget — most of which is for transportation to move teachers to the far west location, he said.

Faber told us that the BNTU had informed the ministry that it could only afford $10,000, which, he said, is not the kind of contribution, they believe, is necessary in order to pull off the national day.

“I think it is sad, because this is an appreciation for teachers. Some say it may have a bit to do with spiting the ministry, but this is something we are doing to honor [teachers],” Faber said, admitting that there is “rockiness in [the] relationship from time to time” between the BNTU and the ministry.

However, the BNTU says that the reason that they pledged $10,000 is “due to heavy spending on the many activities carried out by BNTU this year,” which means that “cash flow is currently low…”

It said that the BNTU reps thought it would have been good, in light of that “rockiness” in their relationship, to join forces to celebrate National Teachers’ Day.

Some teachers have expressed their dismay that they would not be treated to their usual annual outing, but the BNTU notes that they have been working along with district education managers to plan local events in the districts.

The Education Minister said that the district centers have been allocated a budget, primarily from the Government, to organize those events. In Belize City, for example, an event will be held for teachers at BTL Park. Similar events, he said, will be planned all over the country.

The budget has been reduced to roughly $75,000, which would mean $10,000 to $15,000 per branch, the minister explained.

“It’s not that the relationship has broken down so terribly that we cannot honor the teachers for their contributions on Friday,” Faber said.

Teachers’ Day 2014 concludes Education Showcase 2014.

“Teachers, our Minister says that there are ‘some very wonderful and dedicated teachers.’ BNTU says, ‘there are MANY wonderful and dedicated teachers,’” said the BNTU in concluding its statement.

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