The umbrella body for secondary school principals wants to step in to mediate in the dispute between the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) and the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) over payment for marking School Based Assessments (SBAs).
But Minister of Education Ronald Jones has told Barbados TODAY that as far as he was concerned the school heads’ involvement would be a conflict of interest.
The Barbados Association of Principals of Public Secondary Schools (BAPPSS) issued a statement this afternoon in which president Vere Parris offered to mediate and suggested that the assistance of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) also be considered.
It urged the BSTU and the Ministry of Education to start immediate dialogue with a view to resolving the dispute, noting that the prolonged deadlocked was only hurting the students.
“As a body of school leaders, BAPPSS also acknowledges the extreme hard work of teachers in our system. We further acknowledge that the current impasse regarding the marking of School Based Assessments can only serve to disadvantage our students. We wish to assure all stakeholders that BAPPSS is committed to having this situation resolved in the soonest possible time,” Parris said, adding that compromise was necessary.
“The call is for all stakeholders to speedily pursue a solution that is in the best interest of the students and that seeks to ensure that they are never faced with a similar situation in the future . . . Everything possible must therefore be done to enhance their chances of success in this challenging international environment,” he added.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY shortly after the statement was issued, Jones said his ministry had received correspondence from BAPPSS with the mediation proposal.
However, he said he did not believe the principals were in a position to do what they offered.
“How can you mediate when you are the frontline operatives in the matter? You are the ones who have to coordinate to ensure that the SBAs are corrected, marked and . . . the notion of mediation seems a bit skewed there. I understand that everybody in the education system – the principals, the ministry, the parents – want to see this matter . . . at least come to a satisfactory conclusion,” the minister said.
“To be honest with you, I do not know what it is the ministry has to do.”
Jones said he had also received a letter from the Barbados National Council of Parent Teacher Associations (BNCPTA) suggesting an urgent meeting with the BSTU to reach at least an interim agreement.
The minister said he would reply to the BNCPTA on Monday.
“We will respond to everybody because we really don’t want to see our children severely disadvantaged vis a vis what happens across the wider Caribbean for SBAs,” he emphasized.
While secondary school teachers are insisting they must be paid for marking the SBAs, the ministry has not only told them it was part of their normal duties but threatened to discipline them for dereliction.
The deadline for submission of the SBAs expires in five days.
Asked about the Ministry of Education’s options if the BSTU continued to hold out, Jones declined to comment.