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AWRIGHT DEN!: Was I victimised?

COREY WORRELL, [email protected]

AWRIGHT DEN!: Was I victimised?

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“Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change.” – Robert F. Kennedy, 1966 Day Of Affirmation Address.

LAST WEEK I SHARED WITH YOU that I had lost my job as a mathematics teacher at one of our public secondary schools. What I didn’t share with you is why.

The start of the new school term began on Monday, April 24, for teachers and on the Sunday evening, I was informed that a teacher unexpectedly returned from secondment and, as a result, it affected my post.

The Monday morning I went to the school to clear my desk and sanitise the area so the person who would be using my space would have a space ready to work. I returned home that afternoon disappointed that my time had been so short, but I viewed it as “life happens”, “life owes us nothing” and “life isn’t fair”.

The following morning, Tuesday, April 25, I was informed that during the staff meeting the day before, a new male teacher was announced to staff as the replacement for Mr Worrell. When I was told this I was very confused since I was told two days prior that my post was affected by a teacher returning from secondment.

After some investigation, I learnt that the teacher who returned unexpectedly was a senior teacher, returning to their post as year head, and that person teaches English, not mathematics. I also learnt that the new teacher, who is either 24 or 25, had never taught before and this was his first teaching stint.

Let me make one point clear. I was a temporary mathematics teacher who was given a one-term contract. An organisation is within its right at the end of a contract whether to renew or not renew a contract.

Additionally, staff were informed that the principal doesn’t hire or fire any teachers; that is the responsibility of the ministry. The principal takes instructions from the ministry and carries them out.

I have no problem at all with the ministry not renewing my contract as that is its right. What I have a serious problem with was the timing, who was really disadvantaged and how productive the move was.

Here you have a mature teacher who has taught at three Government secondary schools and one private secondary school (experience); has been a youth leader for over 18 years; has worked with young people (especially at-risk youth) locally, regionally and internationally and was the Commonwealth Youth Ambassador of Barbados (experience); whose temporary teacher evaluation report at the end of last term was exemplary (signed by the principal and the head of department); who connected well and made an impact with the students and supported the school and wider staff cohort in their duties, and who brought many skills outside of teaching mathematics, being replaced by a young person who has never taught before.

What is even more worrying is that the Ministry of Education thought it wise and beneficial to the students to make this change during the third term, which is the examination and promotion term.

To add insult to injury, this would be the third mathematics teacher these students would have had in three months (February, March and April). My students, though gifted in other areas, are not strong academic students and many come from very challenging home environments. I have planted good seeds in their lives; hopefully others will water them.

Many have communicated that I was victimised for attending the March Of Disgust. I was told if I go, it would happen. Maybe this is all coincidence, maybe something else is at play. You decide. Since this is a season of facts, let me share one – it is the children who have been disadvantaged.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is the National Productivity Champion and described productivity as “the pivot on which the entire society spins, and the biggest challenge the country is currently facing”. This situation has proven his words to be true.

I leave you with the words of executive director of the National Productivity Council, John Pilgrim. “As labourers, whether management or employees, we need to recognise the crucial role we play in contributing to the productivity of our nation.”

• Corey Worrell, a former Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, is director of C2J Foundation Inc., a project-based NGO focusing on social development. Email: [email protected]