– threatens countrywide protest if talks do not conclude in timely mannerThe Guyana Teachers’ Union is wasting no time in highlighting the benefits that it wants for teachers for this year as it has already submitted its 2019 proposal and is awaiting word from the Education Ministry to commence discussions.That is the word of GTU’s General Secretary, Coretta McDonald, who, on Thursday, told the media that she expected the two parties to begin the first round of talks before the end of March.However, she warned that a timely decision agreeable to both the GTU and the Education Ministry must be made, so as to avoid any negative reaction from teachers across the country.GTU General Secretary Coretta McDonald“In 2018, you would have seen the reaction of the teachers when it came to their benefits and I want to say to you in 2019, it is going to be no different… I am hoping that at that first meeting, we are going to actually lay out where we want to go and how quickly we are going to get there, because I am sure the officials at the Ministry of Education, they would not want to have a repeat of what transpired in 2018. If we have to do it, we will do it, but we are saying loud and clear we are prepared to sit and talk, but we are not prepared to sit and talk for a whole year,” McDonald stated.She explained that the 2019 proposal submitted by the GTU went beyond this year and was a three-year proposal. She hopes that within a two-month period after discussions begin the two parties involved can settle things amicably with decisions that are welcomed by both the Union and the Ministry.“I am hoping that we are able to sit, look at that proposal, agree, disagree, come to a compromise, so that we can have a Memorandum of Understanding signed off so that teachers can begin to enjoy their benefits… Our first talks are going to be held before the end of March, I can tell you that, before the end of March, we might have two sets of meetings and we might have agreements, half-way agreements coming from that proposal,” the GTU General Secretary noted.According to McDonald, the Union has a positive outlook at this year’s upcoming discussions with the Education Ministry because it understands in full what transpires in the school system and is aware that teachers are hardworking people.Teachers protesting last year“When we look at the results we get every year at CSEC [Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate] and the improvements we would have gotten at the Grade Six and at CSEC, come on, under the conditions that teachers work, it should ring a bell to let you know that teachers have not only been working within the confines of their job specifications, but teachers work outside of (them). When you sit in a classroom of 37 children all with a different mind-set and you as one teacher, you have to be able to work around all of them, to ensure that they all grasp the concept. Quite a lot of our folks, our employers can’t do that.”The GTU General Secretary added that the role of a teacher went beyond the syllabus that the school provided for them to work along with.“The job of a teacher is not only to stand in front of a classroom, but you’re a mother, you’re a father, you’re a counsellor, you’re a policeman, you’re a judge, you’re a nurse, every single thing all in one. And so, I am hoping that our employers, our partners – the Ministry of Education, they will not only take the praises when the results are out, but they are going to stand in the places of teachers when we sit there to discuss benefits for teachers,” she reiterated.