Barbados’ teachers have been put on notice.
Minister of Education, Ronald Jones, saying the island was “slipping miserably” and all efforts would be made “take it back”, today warned teachers who had “fallen into a laissez-faire lackadaisical mode” that it could be “over” for them.
And the former longstanding Barbados Union of Teachers head made it clear that even those appointed to the teaching service could be “touched” if need be, with a new strategic plan for education that was “not going to be easy on teachers”.
Jones delivered his message directly to his target audience this morning at the official opening of the Teachers’ Introductory Course, Associate Degree in Education at the Erdiston Teacher’s Training College
“We are bringing teachers right back … to the centre. Water corrodes or erodes and if you don’t harden it it eats away everything, so those who have fallen into a laissez-faire lackadaisical mode (it’s) over,” the minister said in a frank speech which lasted nearly an hour.
Jones said early in his address that he knew “somebody is going to quarrel with me”, but made it clear he was unfazed “because when I speak the truth and people come trying to twist it, it doesn’t bother me”.
Speaking in the context of the demands the new strategic plan for education would place on the teaching profession, the official told those to whom it was relevant:
“Because you might be appointed, don’t feel that you can’t be disappointed. You can be, the laws are there, it’s just that you don’t know they are. They are there you know, so when a fella says ‘man I get appointed he can’t touch me’; Ha! You can be touched, it is how you are touched,” he asserted.
“In the 90s we went through a terrible economic crisis in Barbados and there were people before that crisis who didn’t use to work, you would pass and see them standing up, then going on Fridays and collecting money,” Jones added.
The former trade union leader noted that some individuals like this lost their jobs during that time and those who remained were “working harder than they ever possibly could in the same timeline”.
“Barbados is slipping, we have got to take it back and beyond where it use to be. It’s slipping miserably, don’t let teachers become part of that slippage. We have held the country up for a long time just like priests have done, and strong families, but when your great institutions start to fall the society dies. It implodes and every great society has imploded because the people took their eyes off the prize and we are not going to do it to Barbados — you are not going to do it to Barbados,” he told teachers present.
With “all kinds of things” happening in Barbados that he said needed changing, Jones said teachers were the catalysts of that change and they should see themselves as being “called” to make the difference.
“Don’t pretend that your ego, because you might have a master’s degree or a first degree, that there is nothing for you to learn, you don’t know it all, you are here because you now have to learn something that you don’t know,” he said. (SC)