kaieteur news  Apr 29, 2017 News

 Not only has a recommendation been made for the retirement age of teachers to move from

55 to 60, but Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry [COI] into the education system, Mr. Ed Caesar, said that a proposal has been made for it to be extended further where possible.
Caesar, at a forum to hand over a preliminary report to Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, revealed that the Commission has discussed the possibility of persons opting to retire at the age of 65. However, he noted that the recommendation in this regard entails a clause whereby such persons must be able to produce, on an annual basis, a clean bill of health.
According to Caesar, “We are recommending quietly that consideration be given to improving the age of retirement from 55 to 60 with the provision that persons can still retire if they acquire the 33 and one-third years…they can still retire at 55.”
“But we are going further, if they can produce annually a clean bill of health they can go to 65, that is for consideration by the Ministry of Education and its departments,” said Caesar.
In response to this recommendation yesterday, Minister Roopnaraine said, “My view is frankly we are retiring people at the height of their powers and their experience…The fact of the matter is we have teachers who reach a stage where they are at the height of their career, they are full of experience, full of skills, and you know I hate to lose them.”
In an earlier interview with this publication, the Education Minister had pointed out that “I don’t like the idea of people reaching what is the age of retirement here and going off into the night.”
His remarks were forthcoming after he posed the question of the possibility of a revision of the ‘rehiring of retirees’ policy.
The issue has been one that had gained controversial attention, with the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) President, Mr Mark Lyte, informing that while there is a place for retired persons, there are occasions, when they are rehired in the capacity of senior officers, a situation that can serve to stymie the promotion of qualified young persons.
”We know that education is evolving and you have to get new strategies and plans to deal with the present education system we have, and if you are set in your old ways, then obviously you will be left behind,” said Lyte, as he insisted that “we want to see young intelligent people being deployed in strategic positions within the education sector.”
For this reason, Lyte said that there is need for a revision of the policy for rehiring retired personnel for management positions.
”Rehiring these persons is good, but they should not be coming back in a managerial capacity,” the GTU President opined.
He said that currently in many Regions, and even at the Central Ministry level, there are a number of retired officials who have been rehired in managerial capacities.
But given the extent of skills shortage in some areas, a situation owing mainly to outward migration, the Education Minister reiterated his belief that “it is time for us to muster all the skills and experience at our disposal. So yes, I believe that many people who have in fact reached what we call retirement age still have a lot to offer.”
”It’s, to my mind, a point at which people have reached a point in their lives where, as I said, the experience they have accumulated over the years and the maturity of judgement is not something that we can afford to just dispose of,” the Minister said.
Moreover, he expressed his view that “I would be very happy if people, who reach that point in their careers, are prepared to stay on and continue to contribute.”
While at the time of his interview with this publication, he was not convinced that the retaining of such skills could affect the upward mobility of young professionals, Dr Roopnaraine however noted that “we would run a risk of that if I felt that these retirees were in fact sitting on top of all of this young, emerging talent”. But no, I don’t believe that. I think that there is, in terms of human capacity, room for young people bursting with energy and all of that, working alongside people who have reached that stage of their careers and have great maturity.”
In fact, according to the Education Minister, the younger people have a great deal to benefit from working in close relationships with their older colleagues who have “seen everything that is to be seen”.