December 2, 2023

Doodhai: Teachers marking SBAs for no pay is modern day slavery

From NewsDay Trinidad & Tobago

So said President of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA), Lynsley Doodhai, explaining that the union has taken the position that teachers will not be marking SBAs come September, after in-depth consultations with its lawyers.

Speaking at the 78th Tobago Teachers’ Get-Together held at the Tobago Nutrition and Cooperative Society Building in Canaan on Friday, Doodhai said teachers were under no obligation to mark the SBAs which was the responsibility of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), an external agency.

He said CXC was not the employer of teachers and cannot demand they work for free to grade SBAs. SBAs are a part of secondary school students’ assessments for several subjects under the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) curriculum set by the Barbados-based CXC.

“TTUTA is unambiguous in its position that the marking of is not the job of the teacher since it is part of the evaluation of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), which is an external agency charged with the responsibility of examining the Caribbean students.

“CXC is not the employer of teachers and cannot demand that teachers work for them for free. Although slavery has been abolished since 1834, asking teachers to mark SBA for free is nothing less than modern day slavery,” he said.

Doodhai said last year, the union passed two resolutions dealing with the marking of SBAs, taking the decision for teachers to stop marking them.

“One resolution mandated that legal recourse be taken to obtain a final interpretation on the marking of SBAs, given the consistent refusal of the CXC to entertain the payment of teachers. The second resolution called on teachers to not mark any newly introduced SBAs, including Mathematics and English A, with immediate effect.

“The Association has had in-depth consultation with our attorneys, who have advised that our members are under no obligation to mark SBAs if they are not remunerated for doing so. The Association is prepared to use to courts of the land to ensure that our teachers are no longer taken advantage of,” he said.

TTUTA’s First Vice President, Marlon Seales, also speaking at the event, asked the teachers to abide by the decision.

“I am asking all teachers in the secondary school system to please support… this is not a TTUTA issue and this issue did not come by chance. TTUTA would have done its due diligence,” he said.

“The discussions that we are now having started a decade ago and we would have, as an Association, done our due diligence. We are asking for our members to now support the stance and we have been responsible in this move.

“We did not wait for the last moment, we gave the Ministry of Education and the Caribbean Examinations Council a year advance notice so that they can put their house in order because we, the teachers of Trinidad and Tobago will not be marking SBAs from September of 2018 unless we are compensated for the task,” he said.

President of the Caribbean Union of Teachers, Ashworth Azille, commended TTUTA’s position on not marking SBAs with pay, urging the union and teachers to take the issue seriously.

“Less you believe that the issue of compensation for marking SBAs is unique to Tobago and Trinidad, I tell you it is not. It is a topic that occupies the attention of every member unit in the Caribbean Union of Teachers,” he said.

“So far, we have had at least three units who have indicated that they would no longer mark SBAss until such time that a determination can be made as to what or when teachers can be compensated.

“Do not just leave the argument at compensating teachers, but we have got to advance the discussion to a place where we can say, this is what we believe our efforts are worth, this is what we believe we should be compensated and so I urge you to take this matter very seriously,” he added

IMAGE: A cross-section of teachers at the 78th Tobago Teachers’ Get-Together held at the Tobago Nutrition and Cooperative Society Building in Canaan on Friday.
Asking teachers to mark School Based Assessment (SBA) projects and not pay them is modern day slavery.

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