By Benjamin Flowers
Teachers who are not holders of a teaching license could find themselves without a job at the end of the school year, according to the Ministry of Education.
Minister of Education, Patrick Faber, flanked by high-ranking ministry officials and the President of the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU), Luke Palacio, held a press conference this week to explain how some teachers can qualify to keep their jobs.
According to Faber, all teachers whose provisional teaching licenses expire by school year 2016-2017, but have completed at least 70 percent of the requirements to obtain a full license, will be allowed to apply for a special permit to keep teaching. Those teachers will have a period not exceeding three years to fully upgrade their licenses.
The ministry will also give consideration to teachers who are close to retirement age, for who getting trained at this late stage may not be feasible. Once they present their documentation to show that they are near retirement age, they will also be allowed to apply for the special permit to teach their way into retirement.
All other teachers who will have expired teaching licenses and do not meet any of the exception requirements will not have the opportunity to renew their teaching contracts at the end of this school year.
Faber explained that once a teacher’s provisional license expires, they will be in violation of section 29 (9) of the Education and Training Act 2010, and cannot be legally employed by the ministry.
Faber also signed the Statutory Instrument, allowing for the special permits at the conference.
The ministry said that as much as 1,300 teachers, more than 500 of which are from the primary school sector, could be affected.
Faber added that he encourages the over 500 full teaching license holders who are not employed as teachers as yet, to get in touch with the ministry early, so they can find slots when the clampdown takes effect.
Luke Palacio, BNTU president, said that the teachers who will be affected by the clamp down had more than enough time to upgrade their licenses.
“We don’t want the public nor our members who are teachers to say that the union has done nothing for them; that the union is throwing them out in the cold because they’ve been told,” Palacio said.
In July 2015 the BNTU issued a reminder to teachers that the expiration dates for those licenses issued in 2011 was fast approaching.