Letters — 09 February 2019
Open letter to P.M. Barrow

Dear Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize,

In October 2016, the teachers of Belize went on strike for eleven days. One of the main issues for the strike was Proposal 22, which speaks to full pension for teachers of secondary grant-aided schools. The said pension has been one that the teachers feel is their due.

Why should teachers in government high schools receive full pensions and their counterparts in the granted-aided schools not receive such pension? They work as hard as the teachers from government schools. Where is the natural justice?

Moreover, teachers from primary grant-aided schools also receive their full pension from GOB. So why are secondary grant-aided school teachers not receiving their full pension?

Again on November 7, 2018, the teachers demonstrated to show their concern with GOB disrespecting them and not addressing Proposal 22, among other things.

It is now 2019 and it seems that some games are being played. It is my understanding that MoE wants community high schools to become government schools. This appears to be a divide-and-conquer.

I also understand that only the teachers employed as of September 2019 will qualify for full pension. GOB should not play games; they should pay the secondary granted-aided school teachers their full pension.

When we look back at the history and financing of secondary schools, it seems to show that secondary teachers slowly earned the benefit of full pension. A few quick pointers:

1. I understand that in the early 1990’s through the efforts of BAPSS (Belize Association of Principals of Secondary Schools), GOB began paying 70% of secondary teachers’ salary and GOB had promised to eventually pay 100%.

2. With the promise of free education, the UDP began paying tuition fees for high school students. When the numbers were crunched, i.e salary and tuition grant, GOB was paying full salary for secondary school teachers. Now the Teachers’ Pension Act states: “In respect of other government-aided schools, the percentage of salary or wages which is paid as a contribution from Government revenues …”     Seems that GOB has a duty to pay full pension to teachers from secondary grant-aided schools.

3. Then in 2010, the secondary school financing reform came into effect. Now, I am told that monies sent to secondary schools do cover full salary.

Hon. Prime Minister, your teachers, the secondary school teachers of this nation, need to be given their due. Maybe there is not enough money to sustain full pension …then we need to find a plan so that teachers today are paid their full pension, and we need to make it sustainable. Let natural justice prevail …your duty, Prime Minister, is to act fairly …so please, full pension for the secondary grant-aided school teachers, effective now.

Sincerely
Endevora Jorgenson
Retired Teacher

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