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Mahdia Primary School: Parents, students demand reinstatement of head teacher

Students of Mahdia Primary School and their parents are Thursday protesting what they say is the dismissal of the Head Teacher based on a series of trumped up charges including absenteeism and alleged unaccountability of school funds.

The overwhelming majority of students have stayed away and have been joined by their parents in front of the school to press demands for the return of Wayne Robinson. He has been sent on administrative leave from Tuesday, September 24 and fired effective October 1.

The Chairman of the Parent Teachers Association (PTA), Oswald Junor justified the need for the students to stay away from classrooms, saying it was the last resort to address the dismissal and several other problems in the education sector across Region Eight. “They don’t have any other alternative we could do because you send them to school and they are not learning anything,” he told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com).

Only seven of the 280 students attended school on Thursday and 13 attended on Wednesday.

DemWaves was told Chief Education Officer, Olato Sam would be travelling to Mahdia on Saturday to meet with parents and students.

The Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) plans to take the matter to court for the head teacher to be reinstated because he was fired by a “kangaroo court” of the Teaching Service Commission. GTU executive member, Colwyn King claimed that the TSC meeting did not have a quorum of at least three persons as occasionally only two members were present and only one throughout. King said he was not allowed to represent the teacher’s interest on grounds that he had no moral authority because he has a pending court case.

King explained that Robinson assumed duty in September two months after his appointment was made in July and ratified in August. It was then that Robinson was handed over GUY$1 million for the School Improvement Programme (SIP) for the Mahdia Primary School.

King said the Head teacher subsequently lodged the money with the Region Eight Education Department. The GTU official claimed that all of the money was allegedly spent and a bogus receipt was later rejected by the company from which purchases were purportedly paid.

The Head master later received GUY$134,000 from the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs to assist students in sewing their school uniforms. Each student was given GUY$600 from the lump-sum. Suggestions are, according to King, that when the Head teacher returned from approved medical leave due to malaria he was in possession of a car.

The GTU official charged that the Head teacher is being targeted because he is a supporter of the Alliance For Change (AFC) which controls Region Eight. “The Head teacher is an AFC member and he is lambasted because the Chairman of Region Eight is an AFC. This is what the man is being beaten for,” said King.

Placards read “Stop making false receipts for our HM,” “We need more teachers,” “No HM, No School,” “No Minister, No School,” “Teacher teaches 67 pupils,” “Our children need textbooks,” “No Head master, No School,” and “Stop playing politics with education.”

For his part, the Head teacher said he believed that he was being targeted because he has repeatedly called on the authorities to adequately stock the school with the required supplies. Rejecting charges of unaccountability of funds, inefficiency, insubordination, frequent absence from duty; he claimed success in enhancing the teaching-learning environment and improving potable water and sanitation. Under his tenure, he said the students have recorded higher academic performance. “I’m calling on the relevant authorities to properly investigate this matter and have me reinstated,” said Robinson.

He reiterated that no inquiry was done into the alleged misuse of funds and he was not given a fair hearing by the TSC and the Disciplinary Committee was not properly constituted.