The economic impact from Covid-19 and the shift from traditional teaching and learning and the accompanying challenges have left teachers overwhelmed.
That was essentially the comment made by president of St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union Oswald Robinson during a press conference held at the union’s headquarters last Friday.
“The psychological impact/mental health is an issue now, or has become more complex and compounded.
“There were teachers who were at the point of resigning, you know. Because, people wanted a radical transformation, a radical transition and a lot of these teachers, especially older teachers, they did not have some of the basic skills of ICT,” Robinson said.
He said there were teachers who were not familiar with the platforms used for E-learning and therefore had to learn them.
“Microsoft Teams was relatively new to some of these teachers. And so they needed some time, especially those who didn’t receive any training at all, they needed some time to recompose themselves, condition their mind and to teach themselves and try and try and try until they got it right.
“I am happy to report that the majority of those teachers have made progress,” he said.
Robinson said the majority of teachers want to teach and to deliver quality education and they are trying even though they have limitations.
“And so I am calling on the authorities to respond positively.
It has to be a developmental approach. It’s not negligence as I am hearing on social media and some of the talk shows,” Robinson said.
He said the union was not trying to make a point that teachers need preferential treatment. He said sometimes when the union speaks for its membership, some people assume a particular position and say: ‘Oh, everybody have to live.’
Robinson said that while it is the union’s responsibility to speak for its members it also takes a balanced approach, giving voice to those who are, more or less, voiceless or have no organization representing them.
“We have spoken to categories of workers which have no representation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, because teachers have relationships with these people also.”
“And so it is important that we understand the nature, now, as to how the teacher has to operate from his home, his own little space.
“Nobody has come to the assistance of the teacher and say let me give you something that you could pad a room, a little 2×4 space in your home that you can launch your platform from and teach from there.
“You still have to teach either from your sitting room or your bedroom. And you have other children around you too and the distraction. All those are issues teachers have to deal with because people want to access you online, how you manage the virtual classroom. You have no control over the background noise. It’s your home.”
The union leader also stated: “So, we are saying teachers are overworked. I know there are some administrators asking teachers to produce two hours per day; and some people got it wrong, they thought it was two-three hours per day. “It takes a lot of planning to prepare, especially with the students who are in the lower levels, the early childhood. You have to browse the internet and select age-appropriate activities.
“It’s not everything on Youtube that may be child-friendly because you now have websites now which are disguised. And so, even though your children may have a device, you as a student still have to monitor what is happening,” Robinson said.