By: Omar Silva, Editor, National Perspective Belize
Belize City: Friday, 1st September 2023
Ruth Shoman, who took on the role of B.N.T.U. President on July third, succeeding Senator Elena Smith, has officially stepped down from her position. Originally set to serve a two-year term, Shoman's abrupt departure comes following recent challenges to her eligibility due to her alleged claim of employment as a facilitator with the U.S. State Department. It was later clarified that Shoman was not actually employed by the U.S. State Department.
Earlier this week, the Ministry of Education released a statement addressing statements made by the President of the Belize National Teachers Union regarding the implementation of the Competency-based Education Curriculum. This adds to the context of Shoman's resignation.
The Belize National Teachers Union, a prominent labour organization within the Trade Union Congress, has held significant influence since its establishment in 1970. Shoman's predecessor, Elena Smith, served as president for two terms before handing over the reins to Ruth Shoman on April thirteenth.
Shoman's election as president was announced by Iona Ramirez during the B.N.T.U. Convention. She garnered three hundred and fifty-six votes, securing her position as the head of the teachers’ union. However, her time in office has been short-lived, with Shoman resigning on August thirty-first amid internal challenges and criticism from within the union.
In a statement made shortly before her resignation, Shoman acknowledged that there were forces within the union working against her. She expressed her belief in the strength of B.N.T.U. as a private organization, highlighting that any internal issues were being addressed by the Council of Management.
Ultimately, the mounting pressure led Shoman to tender her resignation. In her letter to the Executive Secretary, she cited abusive attacks as a reason for her departure, emphasizing that the decision was made for her own well-being. Shoman underlined the importance of respecting individual opinions and rights, while also noting that the work of the union would continue despite her resignation.
Shoman's tenure faced criticism from various quarters, including those who contested the leadership position in the previous election. The challenges to her eligibility persisted, prompting Shoman to outline her reasons for resignation in a six-page document. She referred to discussions with an attorney and her efforts to prove her eligibility, highlighting her concern for privacy.
It's worth noting that Shoman had initially announced her resignation in May but later rescinded her decision. However, her second resignation stands, marking the end of her presidency.
As Ruth Shoman steps down, the position of B.N.T.U. President will now be assumed by First Vice-President Jorge Mejia, who will take over the responsibilities previously held by Shoman.