The Gibraltar Social Democrats and Independent MP Marlene Hassan Nahon yesterday joined forces to present united platform and drive home their jointly-held concerns over the Gibraltar Government’s schools programme.
The GSD, represented by party Leader Keith Azopardi and Shadow Minister for Education Edwin Reyes, sat alongside former GSD MP Ms Hassan Nahon as they set out their agreement on a number of principles at a press conference in the neutral territory of the John Mackintosh Hall.
Both the GSD and Ms Hassan Nahon – who was elected into parliament as a GSD MP before leaving to become an independent and form the Together Gibraltar movement – dismissed any suggestion of a merger or a return to the GSD.
Explaining the joint initiative on education, Mr Azopardi said: “We believe the point is made stronger by speaking from a united platform on this issue.”
Ms Hassan Nahon explained that she and the GSD are united on a number of principles surrounding the issue said it makes “perfect sense” to collaborate together on a message of “grave importance”.
She added that their union simply follows “standard procedure” in democracies around the world.
“It is simply a joint statement on these fundamentals which are central to the current package of proposed reforms that will impact upon generations of our students because we think that by making our stance clear on these issues it will give emphasis to our concerns,” the statement read.
This comes amid a long running dispute over the Government’s schools programme after the GTA expressed concerns that its members were not being fully consulted over the plans, prompting a backlash not just from the Government but from senior management at several key schools.
The public stand-off follows the Government’s announcement in late October 2017 of an ambitious programme of refurbishment and re-provisioning of all schools by the start of term in 2019, combined with that programme are a number of adjustments to the way schooling is going to be provided in Gibraltar.
“For us it has become quite plain that since then there are serious issues of consultation and lack of regard to the views of teachers or indeed for basic union rights,” Mr Azopardi told reporters.
He underscored the importance of listening to teachers and for consultation to be meaningful.
“It’s important for teachers not just to be shown plans as a fait accompli but for their views to be taken into account and for their views also to cause changes in the plans if necessary,” Mr Azopardi said.
He further called for respect for the union, underscoring that the union represents the teachers that are at the core of these reforms.
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