Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 21st 2015 Contents "If you have any questions, comments or com-
plaints, call me," he told teachers.
Buenos Aires Teachers strikes in Buenos Aires
have been cut since the minister opened up to calls
Speaking earlier this week at the Global Education
and Skills Forum, Bullrich said there had been an
initial deluge of calls---about issues such as pay, prob-
lems with school buildings and disagreements about
But he said teachers were surprised and then much
less angry when they found the education minister
either took the call personally or called them back.
One teacher who called at 2 am was startled to
get a call back from the minister at 2.15 am, to talk
over his problem about a delay in his pay.
"People didn t really know if it was true that I
would answer. This guy rang at 2 am and really
blasted me on the phone--- You owe me money . So
I called him back at 2.15 am and said Hello this is
the minister of education. First there was silence on
the line and then we got the information and we
solved the problem."
Listening to grievances
Bullrich belongs to a centre-right party and there
was initial suspicion from teachers unions.
"The relationship massively improved when people
realised someone was listening," he said.
"People think it s crazy, but the benefits are huge.
Teachers are a close-knit community, communication
flies around very quickly. Now if they have questions,
people call me."
The calls have been an effective way of "taking
the temperature" and identifying grievances, he said,
allowing his education department to intervene before
From an average of more than one strike a month,
the capital s education system has not had a strike
for almost four years.
This has helped his plans to modernise and raise
standards in state schools.
The number of calls has now been reduced to
about 80 to 100 phone calls per day, he said, even
though he has also published his number for parents
to ring. (BBC)
Saturday, March 21, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
An education minister in Argentina
has stopped waves of teachers strikes
by giving every teacher his mobile
phone number and inviting them to
Esteban Bullrich, in charge of schools
in Buenos Aires, inherited a system
plagued by teaching union walk-outs.
Coming into office as the third edu-
cation minister in 12 days, he published
his personal mobile number as a way
of opening a direct dialogue. The num-
ber of strikes fell from 14 a year to none
in the past four years.
Bullrich, the minister for education
in Argentina s capital, said he decided
to hand out his number as a way of
breaking the culture of distrust and
confrontation between politicians and
Strikes had become a chronic prob-
lem, ministers only lasted a short time
in office and he had to negotiate deals
with 17 separate teachers unions in
So in an attempt to break through
this logjam he gave staff in 1,200
schools his personal mobile phone
number, inviting them to call him
directly if they had concerns.
Mobile phone minister halts strikes
Soldiers from Niger and Chad who liberated
the Nigerian town of Damasak from Boko Haram
militants have discovered the bodies of at least
70 people, many with their throats slit, scattered
under a bridge, a Reuters witness said.
In what appeared to be an execution site for the
Islamist group, the bodies were strewn beneath
the concrete bridge on one of the main roads leading
out of the town. At least one had its head completely
The bodies were partially mummified by the dry
desert air, suggesting that the killings had taken
place some time ago.
Boko Haram has killed thousands of people in
a six-year insurgency aimed at establishing an
Islamic caliphate in northeast Nigeria. Damasak
was seized by the Islamist group in November but
recaptured by troops from Niger and Chad on Sat-
urday as part of a multinational effort to wipe out
the militants. Chadian soldiers, who said the bodies
were discovered on Thursday, spoke of at least 100
corpses in the area around the dry river bed. A
Reuters witness was able to count at least 70.
A trail of blackened blood was visible along the
side of the bridge facing the bodies, suggesting
they had been thrown off the side after being killed.
Among the dead was the imam of the town.
All but around 50 of the town s residents had
fled by the time Damasak was recaptured. Those
who remained were mostly too old or too sick to
leave. The Reuters witness said a strong smell of
decomposition in many parts of town suggested
there could be more bodies concealed there.
Boko Haram leaves
mass of corpses behind
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