ON THE issue of teacher recruitment for denominational schools, there appears to be a split among the ranks of the denominational boards, with six members choosing to blank the Teaching Service Commission's (TSC) meeting on Thursday, but at least five choosing to attend.
The meeting yesterday, which follows one held a week ago, was called to discuss issues surrounding teacher recruitment for denominational primary schools – a matter which has since seen one denominational board member, the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS), firing off a pre-action protocol letter threatening legal action.
The SDMS claims an "unlawful and unconstitutional change" to the recruitment process which contravenes the long-standing Concordat arrangement. The pre-action protocol letter was sent to TSC chairman Elizabeth Crouch and Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly. Crouch has since dismissed the Maha Sabha's claims as "untrue."
The TSC invited all denominational boards to a meeting last week Thursday to "iron out" teacher recruitment issues. The SDMS blanked this meeting, saying the TSC had not responded to its pre-action protocol letter.
A second meeting was arranged – this time by the ministry – and held on Thursday (yesterday) where sources from different denominational boards told Newsday the SDMS, Presbyterian, Vedic, KPA, Methodist and SWAHA boards, did not send representatives.
Speaking to Newsday, chairman of the Presbyterian Primary Schools Board Vickram Ramlal said his board was advised by its attorneys not to attend.
The reason given was: "This is an issue where the TSC and the ministry are trying to have consultations after they deviated from the set out practice." Representatives from SWAHA also confirmed to Newsday no one from their board was sent.
Those who attended the meeting yesterday, Newsday was told, included representatives from the Seventh-Day Adventist, Roman Catholic, ASJA, Moravian and Anglican faiths, among others.
CEO of the Catholic Education Board of Management Sharon Mangroo told Newsday yesterday's meeting was "quite cordial." Mangroo is chairman of the ADBE (Association of Denominational Boards of Education).
"Generally, the board, excluding ASJA, reiterated our request that they return to the set out practice."
Referring to the SDMS' pre-action protocol letter, Mangroo said, "While that is being dealt with legally, we proposed a way forward under the present circumstances so we can move on to filling vacancies."
She said the TSC said they will advertise vacancies, "which is the part we don't agree with.
"But generally, for the rest of the process, we are in agreement, so they will send us the applications that they have retained, we assess the applications (and) feasibility for each board, we make recommendations to the ministry, the ministry then does its own assessment – which is normally an interview – inform them of who is available and pass the information."