Posted: Friday, February 10, 2023. 8:47 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: The Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU) issued a follow-up statement to questions posed to its President, Senator Elena Smith, on Tuesday during a press conference.
As President Smith stated at that time, “It is a matter that as a union we do not condone. I will say that upfront, we do not condone these actions and while as a union we have an obligation to represent our membership, we ensure that we do that. So, if any member is involved in such a matter and they come to us we will represent them. Representing them simply means that we will ensure that the due process is being complied with [and] that the teacher is not being taken advantage of, that sort of thing. But, we will not be defending wrongdoing.” She discussed how teachers and schools can provide counseling on these issues and how the Union was informing teachers of how to act in these situations.
The Union reiterated that condemnation yesterday: “The BNTU IN NO WAY defends the actions of any teacher who takes lightly the sacred trust bestowed upon them in this profession, and CONDEMNS any form of pedophilic behavior.”
It adds that members of the Union are afforded “representation,” emphasized, “in any instance where they feel they are being wronged,” ensuring that due process according to the Education Act and Rules is carried out.
For the record, the President was not directly asked whether the teacher involved in the incident is a) a Union member, and b) if he is, whether or not he has applied to have Union representation. The BNTU release also does not mention this.
But to the extent that representation is construed as directly defending the teacher, the Union complains that some media houses “misrepresented” its comments. It insists that it can ensure that teachers’ rights are protected, but also ensure they understand their responsibility to students, families, and the wider society, the first being of utmost importance, as their actions affect children for a lifetime.
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