Teachers at the University of Belize Belmopan campus demonstrated on Thursday against their administration and are threatening to hold a “sick-out” for Monday.
Between 30 and 40 of the teachers at the campus held an hour-long demonstration on the UB compound, based on the findings of a recent audit which they claim is shrouded in financial and managerial irregularities.
The demonstrators contend that their concerns intensified when they asked for an investigation into the audit and found out that the UB Board of Trustees would conduct that investigation. They say that they have written to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education requesting an independent commission to deal with the audit and that the investigation be taken out of the hands of the Board. But that request has gone without a response so far. Lecturers base their request on what they claim is a conflict of interest since the Board is also the appeal body for UB.
The turnout, according to Allison Crawford, a Science Teacher at UB, in Belmopan, represents the majority of teachers and staff members. She blames the absence of others on alleged intimidation.
President of UB, Dr. Cary Fraser, has said publicly since the demonstration that he has initiated a few changes at the administrative level, but that those efforts have been met by objection from some of the teachers. It is something he suggests which comes with a degree of criticism. He added, however, that the findings of the audit are being reviewed after which he will be making recommendations.
“I expect that people are going to be expressing a variety of views. I expect that I will get criticism too. That’s all part of this process. An audit has been commissioned and its findings must clearly establish what are the problems or issues that have been identified.”
While the hour-long demonstration did not interrupt classes, if the teachers, and their peers in other districts join in on a nationwide “sick-out”, that will undoubtedly result in a day’s loss of lessons. If that occurs, how the lost time will be made up was not revealed.