An open letter to my fellow teachers

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Dear Miss & Sir,
FRIENDS, I stand with you. We are at a place that is not desirable, but we are here nonetheless. I will readily admit to you that I am not the most impartial commentator, my feet are firmly planted in governance, but I forever remain an eternal teacher.

I spent 12 years in the system, albeit, at the private level, but don’t you dare say I don’t know the struggle. Private education is no paradise and besides that, I served as a commissioner on the Commission of Inquiry into the education system. I have seen teachers work in the most dastardly conditions, from lack of toilet facilities to practical ovens for classrooms.

I know you are not asking much, you just want to go to class without the stress of rent, Courts or GPL bill headaches on your head, but friends, the money is simply not there. There is no country in the world with our GDP that can afford this. In countries such as Finland, where teachers are the highest paid, their budgets allow for this. I have seen the heart of His Excellency on education, it beats for education, there is no way he would have his finance people sitting on this money and not instruct them to pay teachers. In policy documents and speeches, His Excellency references the importance of education, from the Green Development Strategy Paper to speeches on the ‘Four Horsemen’ that keep holding Guyana back.

Friends, I also wish to make clear that your duties as full-time parents, teachers, counsellors, advisers and frankly baby-sitters in some regards, your cause is noble and just. No one in his/her right mind ought to deny you your due. I am comfortable in saying that if it were fiscally possible for any government to afford this, I say without fear of successful contradiction, this demand may have been readily met. I strongly suspect it is simply not sustainable, this I believe this is the fiscal truth and nothing but the fiscal truth.
Most worthy citizens who toil to produce every profession in our nation, we are on the cusp of unprecedented economic horizons. I will publicly advocate that as we benefit imminently from this newly found natural resource, you should be given budgetary priority. Continue to go forth and walk with your heads held high wearing the badges of arguably the most revered profession.

I remain forever with you
Ronald Austin Jr.