Why should our children's education be held to ransom by the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA)? Yes, held to ransom by TTUTA and not the Government. Teachers are still collecting their salaries of $7,000 and upwards per month even as they engage in protest at the expense of our children's education.
What have the members of TTUTA done for the past five years to justify a pay increase? The teaching quality in the classroom has not improved since the last pay hike. There are large numbers of delinquent teachers who either stay away from work, attend certain classes, leave work early or just go to class and do absolutely nothing. Such behaviour on the part of some teachers is quite prevalent in the government primary and secondary schools. The Ministry of Education has noted that a large number of pupils still continue to perform poorly at SEA, CSEC and CAPE exams. Why should the Government give in to the demands of workers who are not performing as they should?
TTUTA often cries out on behalf of its members that the service offered by teachers is greatly undervalued and unappreciated, yet teachers' salaries are presently greater than more than 65 per cent of the country's working population. Teachers are allowed to carry on extra classes without having to pay income tax; some teachers earn as much as $2,000 extra per month. In fact, some of the scamps teach so badly in the classroom, that students must attend their private lessons.
Don't get me wrong, not all teachers are delinquents, there are still some dedicated teachers left in the service who are not motivated by the mighty dollar and who realise the significance of referring to teaching as being a noble profession. These are the teachers who would show up for class when TTUTA calls for days of rest and reflection. These are the teachers that would stay back after school to give extra lessons for free. These are the teachers who rarely miss days and attend all classes.
Unfortunately, the way things work in this country is that a benefit to the good teachers would also be enjoyed by the delinquent teachers and this must not be permitted. I recall a lesson taught to me by a teacher in primary school: "Peter would pay for Paul and Paul would pay for all."