Today is July first, you probably already know that, but what you didn’t know is that today is the 4th July since a batch of about 60 teachers would graduate from the ASC department of teacher education. Joining the ranks of over a hundred who would have done the same.
You’re probably thinking: “What makes that significant at all?”
Well, today is the fourth July 1st since those teachers would have gained their qualifications. That day, that first July first would have been the beginning of a travesty. The beginning of a time when we realized that being sent to undergo mandatory training, training which we were told was made necessary by the OECS education reform agreement, really only meant that the expectations of our performance and nothing else would increase.
This 1st of July marks the anniversary of our three year sentence in thankless, compensationless servitude the government, children, and ideal of Antigua and Barbuda. Yes, you see this scholarship was by no means free, we spent hundreds on tuition and thousands in books, manipulatives, teaching aids and countless man hours in study, ending in a three year bond to service. Time spent away from children and spouses, siblings and other loved ones, all in the name of educating ourselves in order to provide better educational services to the youth of the nation. For many not because we wanted to, but because we were told that this was the way to further employment, the preservation of our livelihood, blackmail.
But the insult did not end there, since then we have been commanded to alert the ministry of our qualifications, the ones they sent us to get, in order to be updated to our correct status in the teaching system, note we are now expected to put these tools into use, to function in a capacity in which we are not being payed to function. Our reply, not verbatim, was:
“Congrats on the qualification. But we regret to inform you that there are no positions available at this time.”
It’s an interesting reply, all things considered isn’t it?
The ABUT took it upon itself to help us, they negotiated for over a hundred and fifty new Trained Teacher positions to be made available. They, in effect, did the job of the administration for them, they in effect took it upon themselves to soothe the sting of the lack of foresight that had led us to this destitute place. The very thing that had disillusioned so many in the teaching industry.
That was 2014.
Now here we are in 2015, and those positions are still there gathering dust. Those positions, in which we must function, without compensation, have not yet been appointed. Even though there was a promise of April, then May, then June and now… And now?
I for one, find this the height of irony. Especially after sitting through two days and several hours of professional development and conference, where the stress was on getting qualified, honing our skills, so we could offer even better service. So we could offer more diverse teaching, cater to more complex students and their needs. To grab with gusto the opportunities for personal, professional and financial growth.
Today is the first of July, the fourth one since I started to contemplate if the field I work in, is one that will provide those very same opportunities. If this was a place to settle, and make a career, if this was really worth the demands on my time, health, and family. Today, without word, or compassion, I think I have my answer.