Ministry of Education puts Graham Creek on a hardship list Print E-mail
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Friday, 05 October 2018 00:00

For over a week now, readers may have been tuning in to the evening news and seeing the big noise that the Belize National Teachers Union is making about the hardship allowance that some teachers get from the Government. But, did you know that Graham Creek Government School, one of the schools with the most extreme of hardship conditions, wasn’t on the list?

Now they are, and the BNTU never even knew that they needed to fight for possibly the 2 hardest working, and most dedicated of their members, Jose Cuc, the Principal of Graham Creek, and teacher Germuel Choco. Yet, they harshly criticized the Ministry of Education for not doing enough research, and field visits.

This week on the evening news, we were treated to the spectacle of BNTU President Elena Smith dabbling in mud on the way to Graham Creek Village. And based on what we saw, it was obvious that she has never been there before, and has no clue as to the hardships the teachers experience. It was also the first time that a BNTU president ever visited that little village school on the southwestern edge of Toledo.

Jose Cuc, the school principal, started the school in 2001, and taught there for several years, before going away to get proper teacher training. He has returned on a mission to try and educate the children of Graham Creek. He told the press that in order for him to do his job, he gets up at 3 a.m. on Monday mornings, and he leaves his house in Punta Gorda Town. He travels on motorcycle from PG to the village of Crique Sarco.

From there, he makes a trek on foot to Graham Creek, which is possibly one of the most strenuous journeys in Belize. He hikes through 7 miles of jungle terrain that is hilly, and filled with mud and water up to the ankles and knees.

Cuc travels that distance in all that mud and swamp in about 2 to 3 hours. Not only is he taking on a difficult journey, but he does that travel in a fraction of the time that inexperienced persons would take. The press took an average of 5 to 7 hours to complete that journey, and at the end, their endurance was far overtaxed.

It is the same journey that Germuel Choco, a resident of San Felipe Village, faces, and he has told the press that there are instances during the rainy season that they have swim through the creeks that make up that 7-mile-route to Graham Creek. Both men make this journey twice a week, and sometimes more than that, if there is need.

Otherwise from that, they have to sleep in the school building. They have beds set up in class for the 5-day work week. That’s the only way to avoid the daily commute that even the most fit BDF soldier would be hesitant to make. Both men make these extreme sacrifices because they care for the children of Graham Creek, and because they love the teaching profession.

When asked about his motivation to keep enduring such punishing working conditions Choco said, “I’m committed to my job. I have passion for this. I always think about the kids first.”

Principal Cuc was asked the same thing, and he said, “Although it’s a journey away from home. But due to the call of duty, I love teaching, so I am here for the children. It’s a risk that we take. Although we are not covered under the Social Security and I know that, but it’s a risk we are always here.”

So, instead of trying to play the roles of politicians, the BNTU’s Council of Management should do what they were elected to do: actually represent the interest of their constituents, like Germuel Choco and Jose Cuc.