It is popularly believed that teaching is a work of heart. Teachers are the souls of our societies and vehicles of change, launching their students into a future full of possibilities.
They nurse physical wounds, mend broken spirits, and inspire wide-eyed wonderers. Teachers are the indispensable everyday heroes who, with no pomp and circumstance, continue to fortify this twin island state.
The Executive of the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers stands firmly with its members who have given and continue to give themselves to the education system in the face of insurmountable challenges.
We have consistently made the necessary sacrifices to ensure the nation’s youth are given the best opportunity to thrive within a society that calls for 21st Century skills but makes 18th Century investments in education.
We toil year after year, work in unsafe environments where breaches in our contractual agreements are a norm, and must wait many years before being correctly renumerated. Yet, we are constantly compared to schools and nations that do more than talk the talk.
The Antiguan and Barbudan teacher is exhausted.
Our souls lament the state of education in this twin-island nation. The haphazard approach to planning taken by managers of our system leaves much to be desired, and we can no longer ignore the consistent breaches of their responsibilities towards the teachers and students of this nation.
So, today we stand firm in our resolve to withhold our services until the demands made have been satisfactorily addressed.
To relent is to allow mediocrity to permeate the fibres of our system as has been done in the past, and we cannot continue to operate in this manner.
The Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers envisions a future where education becomes a priority. We envision a future where our politicians and technocrats move beyond lip service and, indeed seek to invest in our young people.
The future of our nation is dependent on us as educators. They are looking to us to equip our students with the skills needed to take us to the next level.
Therefore, I call upon the Ministry of Education to swiftly and adequately address the issues on the ground 1 call upon the Cabinet to contemplate our contract proposals and make a fair counter-proposal.
I call upon our teachers to remain fortified in our quest for fair remuneration and a safe working environment.
We ask our parents and the wider society to stand with us because a healthy and happy teacher leads to a healthy and happy system. Our students need us! We cannot let them down!