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EDITORIAL: Not too late to save youth

Barbados Nation

EDITORIAL: Not too late to save youth

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THERE ARE SOME serious issues which the Ministry of Education must deal with and not wait until they become explosive national talking points. We have already been forewarned by both the Barbados Union of Teachers and the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union that they are frustrated by the snail’s pace in getting some problems resolved.

Recent history would show the headaches which can occur when there is dithering on the part of officialdom. The inquiry which had to be undertaken into the Alexandra School was largely because of inertia. Most Barbadians would not have been impressed simply because they viewed the result as a waste of taxpayers’ money because of a lack of decision making. Thankfully, the Alexandra issue is now history.

The brouhaha over environmental problems at the Combermere School and other educational facilities can no longer be sidestepped and glossed over as vexatious complaints from a disaffected few. At a time when there are concerns about issues ranging from allergies to cancers to security, nothing must be left to assumption. All our schools must strive to meet accepted environmental standards which should all be in place and checked off before next month, the start of the upcoming school year.

Matter will not die

And there is the vexed question of payment of teachers for the marking of school-based assessment papers. This exercise may have been done gratuitously by committed teachers in the past. Clearly, the teachers’ unions feel their members are being exploited by the Caribbean Examinations Council. The matter will not die or disappear by ignoring the protesting voices. It is clearly gaining feet across the region and if left unresolved will affect our children. There is need for a solution and one that benefits the students.

The most critical matter must be the long standing complaint about non-appointment of teachers. It makes for very poor human resource management practices to have these teachers retained in un-appointed positions for extended periods; often years. Either they can do the job and must be given tenure or they are ill-equipped and should be removed. It is not a favour done for the teachers, but a wrong which should be corrected.

Common sense would suggest that these matters should be addressed as a matter of urgency if only because they have the effect of bedevilling our education system. Some may be complex, while others, from a distance, appear to be easily fixed. Whatever the course, none should be allowed to become a full-blown crisis at the start of the new school year.

Minister of Education Ronald Jones, as a former educator and trade unionist, should have a clear understanding and strong position on all these issues. At the end of the day, the buck stops with him. The praise will be his if there is success; the lashes, he must take when there is failure.