Education International
Education International

Caribbean union of teachers embraces CSME, rejects GATS

published 9 October 2006 updated 9 October 2006

Speaking at the EI/CUT Round Table Meeting in St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Prime Minister the Honourable Dr. Ralph Gonsalves challenged teacher union leaders to familiarise themselves with the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and its affects upon the free movement of teachers within the region.

The Treaty of Chaguaramas, initially signed in Trinidad, on 4 July 1973, established the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Dr. Gonsalves’s thought-provoking address set the tone for the rest of the meeting held on September 29-30. It was followed by a comprehensive presentation by the Honourable Kerrie Symmonds, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in Barbados, who explained how teachers can benefit from the provisions of the Caribbean Single Market Economy (CSME).

Educational International’s Deputy General Secretary, Elie JOUEN, spoke of EI’s view on the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) and how it could adversely affect public education. He emphasized that education is a human right and should not be seen as a tradable commodity.

Both Jill Christianson, representative of EI affiliate the National Education Association, U.S.A, and Marguerite Cummins-Williams, former EI Executive Board member, warned of the debilitating effects of the GATS on public education.

The CUT fully supports the CSME. The presentation delivered by Mrs. Myrna Bernard, Programme Manager Human Resource Development in the CARICOM secretariat, emphasising the union’s point of view.

The meeting ended with a riveting address by Professor Errol Miller who strongly advocated the establishment of links among Caribbean teacher training institutions. His concluding remarks emphasized that the CSME “should not be only an economic arrangement, but the construct of a Caribbean identity, solidarity and destiny.