Minister of Education Ronald Jones is appealing to teachers to put the interests of the nation’s children first.
His appeal comes against the backdrop of a dispute between the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU) and the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) over the marking of School Based Assessments (SBAs).
The BSTU has announced that its members will no longer be correcting SBAs after trying in vain for the past nine years to get CXC to discuss paying teachers for performing this task. Instead, the papers will be submitted to principals unmarked for passing on to CXC.
Addressing the monthly meeting of the St Michael South constituency branch of the ruling Democratic Labour Party over the weekend, Jones said: “The School Based Assessment is linked directly to the assessment of the paper the students produce in the school centres or other examination centres and carries a percentage of the marks.
“I would not say that the teachers’ work is an easy one. No, I was there. I know the frustrations that you feel sometimes when you are trying hard and desperately to ensure that that child is successful because there is a view that if the child did not learn, you did not teach. So you would do anything because you want the parent and the Ministry of Education to say: Mr Jones teaches.”
The Christ Church East Central MP urged teachers to rethink their stand but continue their discussions on the issue of payment for correcting the SBAs with the powers that be.
Questioning the action the BSTU has threatened to take, Jones said: “I am not quarrelling with the teachers. When you put the papers on the principals’ desk, they are not going to stay there because they must be submitted at a particular time.”
He added: “I believe they should be submitted shortly. They must be submitted in early April because the other examinations begin in May and June. Our children must be the ones we place first. Continue your discussions, continue your negotiations, because children look up to teachers, you may not notice it, but they do.”