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by Annetta Edghill, Concerned Citizen
Please allow me some space to ask a few questions related to a very serious and troubling matter.
I don’t know who else noticed it, but at the Ministry’s of Education televised press conference yesterday (Thursday, April 21) Dr Anton Best, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, declared the following: “And one key point that I want to make is that schools must be regarded as essential services.”
And this was boldly proclaimed in the presence of a member of Cabinet to boot!
Now this may appear rather innocuous on the face of it, but coming from a public officer speaking publicly in his official capacity, it must immediately raise some alarms within the minds of teachers … and citizens of this country, in general.
Essential services is a very specific formal, legal designation defining a specific category of worker with its own particular conditions. Teachers do not, at this time, fall into any category of essential services. In fact, to seek to now classify the
Teaching Service as such would most significantly alter the terms and conditions of teachers’ employment.
Have there been any discussions with the teachers’ unions about any such a fundamental shift? Speaking to some teachers with whom I am acquainted it certainly does not appear so.
How proper was it for the Deputy Medical Officer to make such a statement when and where he did so? It is the season of kite flying – was the Deputy Chief Medical Officer indulging in this pastime when he made the statement? And if so, for whom was he flying it? eachers have to be alert to these things when they are declared publicly by such a high-ranking official speaking in an official capacity. And in the presence of a member of Cabinet.
Eternal vigilance is needed now more than ever to arrest any erosion of rights now enjoyed. And this does not only apply to teachers!