It was long overdue, but nevertheless appreciated.
That was the declaration of union boss for the Association of Public Primary School Principals, Ivan Clarke, as he addressed this morning’s first meeting on education at the Wildey Gymnasium.
The forum brought together all the stakeholders in education to hear from each other about the expectations and responsibilities going forward, and Clarke challenged teachers to rededicate themselves to the profession.
“I want to urge young teachers that despite the challenges that have gone before, you have entered the greatest profession on earth…
“Mr. Minister, I will say to you that this meeting is long overdue but in any case the Association of Public Primary School Principals welcomes such a meeting. We hope that from this meeting we can go away, we can leave this place knowing that education is on firm footing,” said the president.
He told Minister of Education Ronald Jones and other education leaders that at this point principals needed the support clerical staff and guidance counsellors could provide to the primary system.
Thousands of teachers turned up at the Gymnasium for the half-day meeting, which was addressed by the Chief Education Officer, Laurie King; heads of the four teachers unions and Jones.
Winston Crichlow, President of the Barbados Association of Principals of Public Secondary Schools, likewise told teachers that the schools were not under siege as it would seem based on some negative reports that surfaced each year.
“I find that each year before the school doors even opens, some individual or group seeks to discredit the sector [with reports] on such matters as gangs in schools, lesbianism, homosexuality, drugs, bullying, violence and the like. Colleagues, our schools are not under siege. We admit that there are some deviant students in our schools, but that number remains quite small,” he maintained, calling on teachers to reaffirm their commitment to the profession.
Likewise, Acting President of the Barbados Union of Teachers, Pedro Shepherd, reminded teachers of their roles in schools once the term opens on Monday.
“I am taking this opportunity to wish all the members of the teaching fraternity a successful and rewarding year ahead, especially at a time when the country is faced with difficult economic and financial challenges. Let us now remind ourselves of the awesome responsibility that rests on our shoulders every day as we enter our respective school plants,” he urged.
The meeting ended shortly after noon, following an address by Jones. (LB)