MSS teachers protest

Complaining of frustration and inadequacies at the school

Lead MUT president Denise Silcott shows poster covering – NEEDS

Difficult to say, who saw this coming? But as was very quickly diagnosed, it highlighted a serious problem of which the unfortunate event is symptomatic. But, then investigations into what we saw as too sudden to be meaningful, there was more to meet the eye, evoking serious questions as to the state of the Education System in Montserrat.

This showed itself on the Tuesday morning, September 3, the day after classes had been scheduled to begin at the Montserrat Secondary school (MSS). Teachers (only a small number) turned up at the Karney Osborne Building which upstairs, houses the Ministry of Education offices.

Upon learning about the protest, long distance, the first response and question to the rare informant was, “Rubbish; what r they protesting?” The response was, “school inadequacy.”

Photos of the ‘protest’ were quickly circulated and ZJB news later would seek to clarify what the protest was about. The posters spoke to such matters, as shown here.

Informed sources said that these matters had been discussed long before this time; that there were disagreements with the Teachers Union Leader Denise Silcott as to the timeliness of this late action, as well as questions raised as to the impact these actions which were at the last minute to include ‘parents’ and members of the Parent Teachers Association (PTA).

We gleaned also that these activities were geared to facilitate more individual and personal reasons, primarily promotions and in particular the question of increments which did appear as matters of concern on the posters.

These were all matters that reportedly had been discussed, “earlier this year,” for action to be taken to ensure that the issues would be taken on board and be included in the ‘budget talks.

But here according to media reports, are early responses and explanations from the leaders of the protest when the group of 20 teachers who appeared for the protest, with small support from the Montserrat Civil Service Association (MCA) Nayota Mulcare, and with additional political flare from the Leader of the Opposition Easton Taylor Farrell.

President Teachers Union explains concerns…

“We are here because our issues appear to have less than high priority. We started last year being told blocks L and M had to be taken out of circulation. We had issues with there not being any toilet facility on the field and also we had to be shuffling around the school for the entire school year. We finally managed to make that work and this year we are starting back…we have been told the works have not been put into place because there has been issues with the design.”

“We were supposed to begin school the 2nd of September, nothing happened that we can see. One thing we can tell you for sure that has happened is that the school was fumigated for termites and that in itself led to a delay,” she said.

Two major areas of concerns are:

The lack of adequate toilet facilities, primarily teachers who were relocated to T111 building on the field; and

The problem buildings

Lack of adequate classrooms.

Inquiries are that these matters had been raised with explanations and promises made to teachers as to the process, which created certain expectations, confirmed by the Minister of Education when she later spoke to ZJBNews.

However, it was a bit confusing when she articulated that “poor communication” or lack thereof was the cause for the morning’s surprising event.

The Minister of Education did appear to listen and watch the protest. She reported having called a meeting which included the Premier Donaldson Romeo, Education Director, Dr Gregory Julius, Head of the program management office, President of the Montserrat Union of Teachers (MUT) Denise Silcott and the Union general secretary and principal and president of the MCA, Nyota Mulcare, to discuss the issues and work towards a resolution.

She reported, that based on the dialogue with the teachers it was clear that information of the plans for the MS school did not reach teachers in a timely manner, declaring, “What I saw was the greatest barrier here is the issue of Communication.”

Not everyone close to the situation agree with that finding, as it suggests that officials had not been passing on the information and decisions on matters, particularly that which referred to the status of conditions at the school as mentioned above.

The Union leader had communicated earlier with MSS and Primary school teachers, “to ascertain the progress of readiness for the coming year among other matters,” at which time she also thanked them “for your diligence to your duty as teachers.” 

But, she had also told them “…the matters which continue to plague the section remain cause for concern and action,” reminding them that, ”It is only through our stance as teachers will all the stakeholders better understand that our job requires tireless effort and that we are all equal partners.” And the posters spoke to those matters as well, as she continued to remind that the message has to be unequivocal!

“The teachers’ working conditions are the students’ learning environment” and to expect us to continue to work in environments which leave much to be desired is totally unacceptable. This message has been shared countless times in various fora,” she noted.

The Education minister however, reporting on her discourse with those mentioned above, said: “This was not communicated down to teachers so that the expectations that they had then in May…school was going to be open – so like the teachers today, some of the information, at least most of the information that I received today in terms of where we are, was new to me…” again expressing the belief that there must have been inadequate transmission of communications.

“I am hoping that, for one, the teachers would have an appreciation of what is involved in the process,” but  now she had expectations, “also to hear from them some solutions of how we can make things easier on – some of the ideas that we have looked at.”

She was looking for “Suggestions; but also looking at how can we work together to see this through.”

She got deeper into the problem as she noted: “It is clear that money needs [money is needed] for a new secondary school, noting all of these temporary fixes upset all…

In the end the Minister promised “regular updates as to what’s happening with the project.”

“They’re the ones who have to work in that environment that have been left out and we plan not to leave them out in the discussions going forward,” she said.

Not long after the MUT head confirmed that works are in progress to alleviate some of the burning and pressing issues they had complained about.

She reported, that the Honourable Premier and Education Minister, and head of the Project Management Office, Mr. Partlett had visited the school compound with a view to expediting works to be done to alleviate the concerns surrounding the toilet for staff, as well as much needed classroom space.

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Complaining of frustration and inadequacies at the school

Lead MUT president Denise Silcott shows poster covering – NEEDS

Difficult to say, who saw this coming? But as was very quickly diagnosed, it highlighted a serious problem of which the unfortunate event is symptomatic. But, then investigations into what we saw as too sudden to be meaningful, there was more to meet the eye, evoking serious questions as to the state of the Education System in Montserrat.

This showed itself on the Tuesday morning, September 3, the day after classes had been scheduled to begin at the Montserrat Secondary school (MSS). Teachers (only a small number) turned up at the Karney Osborne Building which upstairs, houses the Ministry of Education offices.

Insert Ads Here

Upon learning about the protest, long distance, the first response and question to the rare informant was, “Rubbish; what r they protesting?” The response was, “school inadequacy.”

Photos of the ‘protest’ were quickly circulated and ZJB news later would seek to clarify what the protest was about. The posters spoke to such matters, as shown here.

Informed sources said that these matters had been discussed long before this time; that there were disagreements with the Teachers Union Leader Denise Silcott as to the timeliness of this late action, as well as questions raised as to the impact these actions which were at the last minute to include ‘parents’ and members of the Parent Teachers Association (PTA).

We gleaned also that these activities were geared to facilitate more individual and personal reasons, primarily promotions and in particular the question of increments which did appear as matters of concern on the posters.

These were all matters that reportedly had been discussed, “earlier this year,” for action to be taken to ensure that the issues would be taken on board and be included in the ‘budget talks.

But here according to media reports, are early responses and explanations from the leaders of the protest when the group of 20 teachers who appeared for the protest, with small support from the Montserrat Civil Service Association (MCA) Nayota Mulcare, and with additional political flare from the Leader of the Opposition Easton Taylor Farrell.

President Teachers Union explains concerns…

“We are here because our issues appear to have less than high priority. We started last year being told blocks L and M had to be taken out of circulation. We had issues with there not being any toilet facility on the field and also we had to be shuffling around the school for the entire school year. We finally managed to make that work and this year we are starting back…we have been told the works have not been put into place because there has been issues with the design.”

“We were supposed to begin school the 2nd of September, nothing happened that we can see. One thing we can tell you for sure that has happened is that the school was fumigated for termites and that in itself led to a delay,” she said.

Two major areas of concerns are:

The lack of adequate toilet facilities, primarily teachers who were relocated to T111 building on the field; and

The problem buildings

Lack of adequate classrooms.

Inquiries are that these matters had been raised with explanations and promises made to teachers as to the process, which created certain expectations, confirmed by the Minister of Education when she later spoke to ZJBNews.

However, it was a bit confusing when she articulated that “poor communication” or lack thereof was the cause for the morning’s surprising event.

The Minister of Education did appear to listen and watch the protest. She reported having called a meeting which included the Premier Donaldson Romeo, Education Director, Dr Gregory Julius, Head of the program management office, President of the Montserrat Union of Teachers (MUT) Denise Silcott and the Union general secretary and principal and president of the MCA, Nyota Mulcare, to discuss the issues and work towards a resolution.

She reported, that based on the dialogue with the teachers it was clear that information of the plans for the MS school did not reach teachers in a timely manner, declaring, “What I saw was the greatest barrier here is the issue of Communication.”

Not everyone close to the situation agree with that finding, as it suggests that officials had not been passing on the information and decisions on matters, particularly that which referred to the status of conditions at the school as mentioned above.

The Union leader had communicated earlier with MSS and Primary school teachers, “to ascertain the progress of readiness for the coming year among other matters,” at which time she also thanked them “for your diligence to your duty as teachers.” 

But, she had also told them “…the matters which continue to plague the section remain cause for concern and action,” reminding them that, ”It is only through our stance as teachers will all the stakeholders better understand that our job requires tireless effort and that we are all equal partners.” And the posters spoke to those matters as well, as she continued to remind that the message has to be unequivocal!

“The teachers’ working conditions are the students’ learning environment” and to expect us to continue to work in environments which leave much to be desired is totally unacceptable. This message has been shared countless times in various fora,” she noted.

The Education minister however, reporting on her discourse with those mentioned above, said: “This was not communicated down to teachers so that the expectations that they had then in May…school was going to be open – so like the teachers today, some of the information, at least most of the information that I received today in terms of where we are, was new to me…” again expressing the belief that there must have been inadequate transmission of communications.

“I am hoping that, for one, the teachers would have an appreciation of what is involved in the process,” but  now she had expectations, “also to hear from them some solutions of how we can make things easier on – some of the ideas that we have looked at.”

She was looking for “Suggestions; but also looking at how can we work together to see this through.”

She got deeper into the problem as she noted: “It is clear that money needs [money is needed] for a new secondary school, noting all of these temporary fixes upset all…

In the end the Minister promised “regular updates as to what’s happening with the project.”

“They’re the ones who have to work in that environment that have been left out and we plan not to leave them out in the discussions going forward,” she said.

Not long after the MUT head confirmed that works are in progress to alleviate some of the burning and pressing issues they had complained about.

She reported, that the Honourable Premier and Education Minister, and head of the Project Management Office, Mr. Partlett had visited the school compound with a view to expediting works to be done to alleviate the concerns surrounding the toilet for staff, as well as much needed classroom space.