EDITORIAL: Speak now, for children’s sake
This is one time when silence is not golden.
After all that has occurred in relation to The Alexandra School, the transfers affecting some 40 teachers in the last week have spread the woes of the Speightstown institution across our secondary school system. And like a veritable wound being ripped open, the tension and “bad blood” that have been features of Alexandra – but were at least contained within that institution – have infected many schools upon the eve of Monday’s resumption of classes.
Yet in all this the Government remains silent.
While the Prime Minister has said on record that there is nothing left for him to do, at least one would expect his Minister of Education to be stridently defending or berating these controversial transfers.
For the Freundel Stuart Administration to allow this potentially disastrous twist in the Alexandra saga to drag on without a comment for over a week is to seemingly be indifferent to the views of many Barbadians.
This is not an issue being bandied about by ill-informed members of the public not au fait with the intricacies of the educational system. Many teachers are angry and at a loss as to why they are apparently being “punished” for a situation not of their making, while parents and students dread the uncertainty that awaits them.
The cry of the Princess Margaret Secondary School’s head of industrial arts, Ronald Jordan, about the senseless, sudden move from his school’s autotronics lab to Alexandra which doesn’t teach an auto-related subject, has resounded across Barbados.
His cry not merely laments the inconvenience of having to get from St John to Speightstown daily or even moving from the comfort of teaching his pet subjects, but he cries for his students who are on the verge of their City & Guild exams.
The situation has also fuelled an expectedly fiery reaction from the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union, which has decided not to allow three of its members to enter the schools to which they have been transferred.
After years of tension which exploded in a strike by nearly 30 teachers last January, followed by a costly Commission of Inquiry and the announcement of clear recommendations by retired judge Frederick Waterman, what next? A standoff between teachers and the Ministry of Education?
We believe someone in authority has to say “enough” in relation to this national issue which has caused untold pain to those directly involved and evoked the gamut of emotions among the general public.
Caring governance demands our leaders treat to matters which affect most of the population – in this case, particularly, our impressionable youths who watch horrified as their teachers remain at war.
Minister of Education Ronald Jones should speak now as autotronics teacher Jordan vehemently recommended.
We would not be surprised, however, if the ministry, instead of dealing with the vexing core issue, deals with Jordan and tries to make him an example. But to what end? Will he be yet another casualty?
Say something, Mr Jones or Mr Prime Minister – for the children’s sake.