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“My entire household is made up of teachers, and that is why I continue to have such a passion for teaching and education in this country! People don’t understand that before I do things out there, my first debate commences in my home!”By Leon SuseranThe name Colin Bynoe is familiar in the areas of teaching, trade unionism and of course, leadership. Yes, Bynoe is a leader—and a pushy one, too. Throughout his life, he has been a go-getter, whether for the education sector, representing teachers or his constituents, in the sports arena, or in his church.During a break at the 36th Biennial Caribbean Union of Teachers’ (CUT) Conference in Guyana (August 2013)An administrator in education for a number of years, the former Member of Parliament has spoken out fearlessly about injustices and unfair treatment of teachers. He has always been driven to challenge the powers that be so that betterment can come for all his peers in Guyana.Colin Clairmont Bynoe was born in New Amsterdam to Rhoda Veronica, a Region Six RDC Office employee and Rupert Conrad, of Bookers, Canje and JP Santos Ltd. He recalled the good old days of spending his vacation in New Forest with his grandmother, Carolyn, whom he credits for much he has achieved in his life.“My experiences in New Forest were spent surrounded by lots of fruit trees and persons working very hard on their farms. Persons always had bags of fruits to give away. Walks to Guava Dam were indeed memorable. It was the days where everyone older than you was an aunt or uncle; the days when children had lots of respect for their elders.”Bynoe also expressed much gratitude for his upbringing, too, to the nuns and priests of the St. Aloysius Roman Catholic (Boys) School.“That school did a lot of good things for me,” he said. “We were taught to sing, while the priests strummed their guitars. I also remember Sister Rose Magdalene, who worked with the under- 12 boys for them to participate in a National Singing Competition at the National Park, for which I was selected.”With the family at his daughter’s recent graduation at the University of Guyana Berbice Campus (one of his sons is not in the photo)After writing his College of Preceptors examination, Bynoe was awarded a place at New Amsterdam Multilateral School. However, without his parents’ knowledge, he wrote the entrance exam to the New Amsterdam Technical Institute (NATI) to further his technical skills. He loved those areas of study.His father was shocked after he showed him his letter of acceptance by then Principal, Mr. Alan Munroe. “I gave away my right to attend secondary school and went straight to a tertiary institution!” In the class of 64, Bynoe performed very well, and was even congratulated by the Principal. At the end of his second year, he was one of the youngest students NATI sent up to write the City & Guilds Exam, and was the first to pass both exams in 1975.After NATI, he applied to teach, in 1978. He travelled daily from New Amsterdam to Number 56 Primary School on the Corentyne as a teacher of Motor Mechanics. He worked under headteacher, Mr. Shiv Rattan and Leonard Dabydeen, Industrial Arts Head, as well as Joy Henry. It was the likes of those persons, including Naranjan Singh, who took him in their homes “and made me feel comfortable at nights when I could not have gone back home to New Amsterdam due to the referendum protests and such”.He was later transferred to Fort Ordnance Primary. “Working with teachers there, I harnessed my talents and they encouraged me to attend (Teachers’) Training College”, which he did in 1980. He studied with the likes of other veteran and respected educators of the time, Rose dos Ramos and Ruth Jaundoo. He was on top of the Drama Class, “”singing all of the creole songs and when it was graduation time, we were the people doing all the cultural presentations.”Members of the Caribbean delegation at a C’bean /Latin America Conference on Teaching Standards. Mr. Bynoe is second from right.After completing college, Bynoe taught at Betsy Ground Primary and worked under Mr. Romeo Lalla. “He taught he what it meant to be thorough as a teacher…this man was like a father figure to me.” In 1987, he was transferred to Manchester Community High, under the leadership of one of his mentors in life, Mr. Dalton Lashley, “the man who fine-tuned my skills in the education system, whilst Leonard Dabydeen taught me a lot about unionism and rights of teachers….”“He taught me to write clearly on the chalkboard and how to detect errors in students’ attendance registers,” he said. “Lashley was never afraid as a head teacher to give a junior teacher the responsibility of running the school, and that was one of the things I learnt to use effectively later on in my career!”During these times, Bynoe became a very active member of the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) where he attended and participated in union meetings and sports activities. He worked under the stalwarts such as Keith Hart, Samuel Archer, Ansel Hazel and Basil Hercules.Discussing issues about teachers with Education Minister Priya Manickchand“I was more focused on sports and playing dominoes at the building.” Among the positions he held in the GTU were President, Regional VP; District Sports Rep of District Six; Branch Chairman; Branch Vice-Chairman; Branch Sports Secretary; and Branch Sports ChairmanIn 1998, Bynoe assumed the position of Senior Master at Port Mourant Community High and worked along with Mr. Seepersaud Mangal. The building was in a terrible state. Bynoe spearheaded the task of bringing this to the attention of then Minister of Education, Mr. Dale Bisnauth.Bisnauth, during a visit to Berbice, jumped into Bynoe’s car and “when we walked in the school, he said it was a disaster.” A week later, he received a response, and was able to secure rehabilitation works for that school with Future’s Fund. Working at that school remained the pride of his heart. He toiled assiduously to transform the negative image of that school. “They use to call that school ‘cowboy’…but with my going there all those things changed.” He was able to lift the standards, and the population prior to his arrival which had dropped to a low of 221 in 1998, rose to the highest of over 860 students during his tenure. Students also succeeded at the CSEC Exams, proving the point that even the low-achieving schools can deliver results if given much needed attention. His desire for the construction of a Science Lab for the school was also achieved even as he eased into retirement.After much confidence and desire from his superiors at that school, Bynoe—a Senior Master- -was nominated to act as HM after Seepersaud’s retirement. He was later appointed to the position. Bynoe attended the University of Guyana Berbice Campus (UGBC) where he read for a Bachelor of Education Degree. His leadership qualities further saw him being the longest- serving Student Representative at that campus where he served for four consecutive years. “Many persons thought they could do anything to students, but after I took up the job, I took time out to learn about my responsibilities and the heat was turned on them here (at UGBC).” He caused the university to ensure more financial accountability to the student body.The Bynoe family also made history with husband, wife and daughter graduating at the same time, “the first family to graduate the same time at the Berbice Campus….it was historical.”Making a presentation to a teacher on World Teachers’ DayDuring this time, he continued to lead the sports arena in the GTU, taking teams to the National Championships and such like. During the late 1990s Bynoe was encouraged to continue his work in the union as District Representative.In 2000, Bynoe became the Regional Vice-President of Berbice, until 2010, when he assumed the Presidency of the union. He served for four years after which he retired in 2014. Talking about some of his more satisfying accomplishments, Bynoe reflected that he carried a lot of skills in “trying to make us move to another level.” He outlined being able to get the Ministry of Education to understand the need for time-off for teachers to attend GTU Meetings, “and it was a great achievement…we were able to fight and get it back!”“Another accomplishment under my Presidency was to prove to then Education Minister Shaik Baksh, that you cannot violate the Industrial Policy in terms of dismissing people.” He cited the Neesa Gopaul case when the HM of that school was being recommended for dismissal by the Ministry. Bynoe fought the Minister and other senior education officials tooth and nail to ensure nothing of the sort took place,NFL Jerseys From China, because he believed in the rights of teachers, particularly as it related to that case.“Because that child died, persons felt they should have blamed the HM and five teachers they were going to demote, but the union decided—with me at the helm—we would not allow it to go that easy!” Bynoe ensured the Ministry gave the process a closer look, “and we started to expose in the media what the education officers didn’t do and what the other officials did not do. I was able to stand up and fully represent teachers to the end, because we knew we were right!”Bynoe also recalled taking up the issue of the Associate Degree in Education programme which was new back then for the Cyril Potter College of Education. Bynoe asked the tough questions and ensured the officials listened to their concerns and considerations for such a programme. During his tenure as President, Bynoe was pleased that he was able to motivate the union to take legal action not only against the Education Ministry but also the Teaching Service Commission, “and everybody who we feel and know are disenfranchising our teachers!”He also reintroduced sponsorship for the National Schools’ Championships from the big companies in Guyana including Digicel, Giftland OfficeMax, Banks DIH and DDL. “These agencies took the Championships to another level!”While underscoring the need for the union and the Ministry to have good and positive relations, the past President said he “would never compromise that relationship if and when teachers’ rights are openly being trampled on”.During his tenure, he attended numerous Conferences including Caribbean Union of Teachers’ Conferences across the Caribbean; meeting with Canadian Teachers and officials from Education International, etc. He was also part of the Guyana taskforce that made up the Teaching Council of Guyana where he represented teachers overseas. He was particularly proud of spearheading the hosting of the Caribbean Union of Teachers’ Conference in Guyana, after 21 years, in August 2013.“What we accomplished at that conference will forever remain in the minds of the participants. The memorable experiences of the overseas delegates, especially as it related to showcasing our country and its culture, was most positive. The Guyana Night was fantastic. We got full support from the Minister (Priya Manickchand) and Ministry of Education in hosting that Conference.”It should also be noted that in 1998 Bynoe was a Member of Parliament for the People’s National Congress (PNC), when he recalls vociferously lambasting the persons in charge of a road project at New Amsterdam, to ensure quality works, and ultimately succeeding in getting just that. He recalled himself being influenced into politics by former Parliamentarian and Minister Edith Bynoe, and his mother, who was a member of the PNC New Amsterdam Group. “As a little boy, she used to be tagging me along at all meetings.”“I enjoyed those years. I found it educational to always be able to speak to those on the other side (of the House)…I used to be having lots of talks with Ronald Gajraj, and I learnt so many things from all of them!”Bynoe was also trained as a Reserve Officer of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), in 1985.He is also a devoted member/Elder of the Alness Seventh-day Adventist Church on the Corentyne, where he has been involved in work there since 1990. “I am happy that I could serve people in all those fields,” he added.He has been happily married for 28 years, to another respected educator, Mrs. Maureen Ann Bynoe, lecturer at UGBC. They share three loving children: Colvis Cordell, a fire officer; Carolyn Candacie, a teacher; and Colin Clairmont, also a teacher. Bynoe proudly shared the fact that “my entire household is made up of teachers, and that is why I continue to have such a passion for teaching and education in this country! People don’t understand that before I do things out there, my first debate commences in my home!”“We are properly blended, in the sense that you have three teachers who will argue, and a fireman who will throw the water on top to ease the whole problem,” he said with a laugh.He is quite proud that he is now enjoying the fruits of his retirement, but he still is very interested in the work of the GTU and says unhesitatingly that if asked, he would mentor the current leadership.
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