Despite Ministry of Education’s mandate, BNTU advises teachers to enjoy full Christmas vacation

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

The Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) issued a press release on Monday, December 12th, notifying teachers and students to enjoy their ‘full’ Christmas vacation. Originally, the Ministry of Education (MOE) had announced that three days would be docked from the Christmas vacation due to the BNTU’s 11-day strike. While the MOE advises schools to be opened on January 3, 2017, the BNTU is informing teachers and students to return to the classrooms on January 9, 2017 instead.
BNTU President Luke Palacio explained that it is up to the Managing Authorities and teachers who should decide when the days will be made up. “The Ministry of Education has relied on Rule 131 (4) of the Handbook of Policies and Procedures for School Services 2000 to forge ahead with an amendment to the school calendar where a school falls short of the one hundred and eighty school days; however, that rule clearly states that special arrangements shall be made by the school and not the Ministry of Education to fulfil this requirement. We believe that our school managers and not the Ministry should plan alongside its teachers and implement that make-up time,” said Palacio.

Luke Palacio

The release stated additionally that the ‘Rule 80 of the Education Amendment Rules of 2012’ speaks clearly to a teacher’s entitlement to vacation days during the Christmas break, Easter break and during the month of July.

Honorable Patrick Faber

Minister of Education, Honorable Patrick Faber spoke to the Belize City of the repercussions should the BNTU decide not to follow the mandate. “Palacio has said that the union will not engage in the additional days added to the school’s calendar by the MOE. In fact, he accused the MOE and the managing authorities of working together in plotting. We tried our best to engage all the stakeholders, including the unions to try to make sure that the children are the benefactors in what we do at the end of the day. Palacio is right when he says that ordinarily the days for Christmas and all other breaks are specified in the law, but it also says that when you fall below that 180 days that in fact those changes can be made…we have not changed course…we will ask teachers to be present on January 3rd to ensure that our children, who I’ve always maintained are the ones who we should be focused on, get maximum benefit as it relates to class time as we have lost very valuable time as a result of the recent strike action,” said Faber.
Despites Faber’s stance, the BNTU stand firms on their decision, and notifies teachers and students that classes will resume on January 9, 2017.

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