The opening address of His Excellency the Governor for the Executive meeting of the C.U.T.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten -

A Call for Teachers

A Government’s, Unions and Teachers Challenge

Opening Address

By H.E. Governor Eugene B. Holiday

Delivered on the Occasion of the Executive Meeting hosted by the

Windward Island Teachers Union and the Anguilla Teachers Union.

December 5, 2013,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A pleasant good morning and a warm welcome to all of you for this Executive Meeting of the Caribbean Union of Teachers. In particular, I would like to acknowledge and extend a special word of welcome to Mr. Marvin Andall, President of the Caribbean Union of Teachers and today’s chairman, welcome Mr. Andall. I would also like to extend greetings to the Executive Board of the Caribbean Union of Teachers and the Presidents of various Teacher's Unions from the Caribbean. Finally, I wish to congratulate Mrs. Emma Ferguson of the Anguilla Teachers Union as well as Mrs. Claire Elschot of the Windward Island Teachers Union for organizing and hosting this event on Sint Maarten.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today precisely two months ago on the 5th of October, UNESCO along with its partners, the International Labour Organization (ILO), UNDP, UNICEF and Education International, celebrated World Teachers’ Day. On that occasion UNESCO Director-General, Ms. Bokova stated and I quote:

“Teachers’ professional knowledge and skills are the most important factor for quality education. This World Teachers’ Day, we call for teachers to receive stronger training upfront and continual professional development and support... “. Unquote.

It is not surprising, therefore, that “A Call for Teachers!” was this year’s slogan to celebrate World Teachers’ Day.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Considering the slogan “A Call for Teachers!” I the role of Teachers Unions, I would in these opening statements like to share a few thoughts with you on three levels.

First, on the governmental level responding to “A Call for Teachers” is a constitutional obligation of the government. Namely based on our constitution every child on Sint Maarten is entitled to obtain a general formative primary education. In this regard it can be noted that Sint Maarten is a strong proponent of continuous learning for which our children’s teachers, are our most important asset. And the government of Sint Maarten, plays its role therein by giving high priority:

  • to raising standards in education,
  • to improving quality, service and professionalism,
  • to promoting the principles of equity, access, efficiency and excellence; and
  • to strengthening international relations in the region for the promotion of education.

In this respect it is essential to emphasize that in responding to the call for teachers it is important that all stakeholders and government work together to give content to and to realize these issues throughout our region. This by supporting and committing to high leel quality teachers education.

Second, on a unions’ level “A Call for Teachers” underscores your obligation as representatives of teachers across the region to respond to and meet the needs of teachers in a complex environment. As teachers’ unions you are the guardians of the rights and responsibilities of the teachers of our children and by extension of the potential for the development of our societies. It is thus my hope that your meeting will help to provide answers to the challenges facing our education systems, in general and teachers in particular.

And finally, on a teachers level ‘A Call for Teachers” is as I have stated in the past a calling for current and future teachers to be standard-bearers. As practitioners of the mother of all professions, you are standard-bearers of our society. Whatever happens in your classroom sets the standard for our society. That is because the classroom is the training ground where pupils and students acquire the skills and capacities to become effective contributing members of our society. It is at our schools where kids from differing social, ethnic and religious backgrounds come together under the care of teachers to be molded for their role in society. It is at our schools where the seeds are planted for the standards of our society. Thus whatever happens in our schools affects all of us.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

These facts, places a continued responsibility on government, unions and teachers. As stakeholders in our regions development, it is incumbent on all of us to excel in what we do in meeting the Call for Teachers. This imperative for excellence towards our educators and our educational systems is in my opinion the noble cause of this gathering. For it is through excellence in education that we can be assured of strong, sustainable and noble societies in our region. Societies where we individually have the gifts and through teaching foster the abilities and values necessary for the development of free and just regional communities that reinforces each other.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In closing, Sint Maarten values and fosters close relationships with our regional partners and is a strong proponent of interregional cooperation. You, the Caribbean Union of Teachers, is illustrative of enhanced and successful interregional cooperation in the field of education. A field which, as I have outlined is critical to our individual and collective development. For that reason, I am very glad you have chosen Sint Maarten as this year’s venue for your Executive Meeting. I therefore wish you all a very fruitful gathering and hereby declare this Executive Meeting open.

Thank you.

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