by Donna Sealy
All is not well at Alma Parris.
And President of the Barbados Union of Teachers, Pedro Shepherd, is calling on the Ministry of Eduction to rectify the situation or they could find themselves with another Alexandra School-type situation on their hands.
Addressing the opening ceremony of their 39th Annual General Conference at the Hugh Springer Auditorium, Solidarity House, last night, he said that the trade union had started dialogue with the ministry more than two years ago over Alma Parris Secondary School.
“About a year ago an oversight committee was set up to advise the minister. We have just come out of an enquiry into the affairs at the Alexandra Secondary School and it is looking like we will be going into one at Alma Parris School shortly if there is no serious intervention.
“The BUT has been sharing information with and impressing upon the Ministry for nearly two years of the need to take action down St. Peter. This union is a very responsible one but faces tremendous obstacles with stakeholders sometimes. Minister, PS act now,” urged Shepherd.
The union wrote the ministry seeking a meeting to discuss the matter and to bring about a resolution, but to date there has been no response, sources revealed.
Sources close to the school told Barbados TODAY that teachers were reaching the end of their limit and the issues raised on teachers’ behalf by the BUT were in fact “far from resolved”.
Among the matters to be dealt with are time-tabling and teachers being assigned to areas they are not competent to teach, the lack of discipline among the first and second formers, teachers being assigned to departments and the heads of those departments not being aware, more than one person being assigned to teach a particular subject and having to wait on books.
Last term, there were instances when the school had to be closed because the teachers staged a “sick out”.
Another area the president touched on during his 32-minute address was the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union and the BUT working together.
“The Barbados Union of Teachers stands ready to join hand in hand its sister union, the BSTU, in charting a new vision for education in Barbados. Let us pool our resources and move forward as one united body in the interest of education,” he said.
Later he told Barbados TODAY he did not see why the two teachers’ trade unions could not come together “in the interest of education”.
“I think there are a lot of issues in education that if we take a united approach too we should be able to get some resolution. Particularly those we would have been looking at in the collective bargaining agreement,” Shepherd said.
He said he intended to put his invitation in writing.