Teachers draw line
TEACHERS WILL NO LONGER stand for violence against them.
This was the clear message sent by president of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union, Mary Redman, during a meeting of primary and secondary school teachers yesterday at Solidarity House.
She said the next step would be a meeting with Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw and other stakeholders on Saturday.
“This problem now has to be faced head on and we have to be the catalysts in that regard because we are the ones on the frontline. Since the beginning of this term, there have been five incidents of student-on-teacher violence against our members and we are here today to say not one more,” she declared to thunderous applause.
In an interview with the DAILY NATION a day earlier, Bradshaw said violence in schools would be ventilated at that meeting.
“I felt this was very important. I don’t want it to be just student-on-teacher violence
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because we are seeing violence manifesting itself in all forms in the school system.”
She reminded that in the last Budget, Government had announced there would be additional guidance officers assigned to certain schools, as well as the use of safety officers and social workers.
“This is the first indication that we are trying to take steps to combat the social behavioural problems. We need a serious discussion on the allocation of resources to address this problem financially. The ministry has a no-tolerance approach to violence. We have to find ways to deal with punishment and discipline in schools because the existing ways of discipline are not working.”
Redman said four of the five recent incidents involved female teachers.
“The last of these got full national attention, with the very encouraging words and progressive action of Chief Magistrate Chris Birch [in last Friday’s WEEKEND NATION]; we need more like him. Teachers will not stand for violence against them any longer,” she said.
She also revealed there was a scheme circulating in schools where if a student attacked a teacher, the person would earn points. However, she did not elaborate.
Redman presented the teachers with a list of protocols in the event they were attacked by a student, along with 22 recommendations, which the body agreed upon, to be presented to the Prime Minister and Bradshaw.
“We, at that meeting, will be taking recommendations coming out of here to them, in terms of addressing the issue of violence in schools generally, and more particularly, student-on-teacher violence,” she said, adding that a few amendments would be made before it was presented officially.
One teacher who attended yesterday’s meeting, but who declined to be identified, called for action to be taken to deal with the root cause of violence in schools.
“We probably need to start at the root of the matter and deal with the crime situation in Barbados and stop burying our heads in the sand. Whether we like it or not, that is what we have been doing in Barbados. We are very good at burying our heads in the sand or sweeping the thing under the carpet. One of these days, the carpet is going to break your neck because too much dust and dirt [are] under the carpet,” he said. ( RA/MB)
SOME OF THE TEACHERS who attended yesterday’s BSTU meeting at Solidarity House.
(Picture by Lennox Devonish.)