Opposition Shadow Minister of Education Edmund Hinkson and the President of the Barbados National Council of Parent Teachers Association Shone Gibbs have called for a decisive end to the “wrapper controversy” involving a 14-year-old student.
The duo’s call comes ahead of tomorrow’s meeting between Minister of Education Ronald Jones and Elecia Weekes, the mother of the Springer Memorial student who was ordered out of school this week, in a dramatic twist to a row that has gone on for over eight weeks.
The student has been kept out of class for refusing to pick up a wrapper when ordered to do so by both her teacher and the principal.
Hinkson told Barbados TODAY that too much time had already been wasted on this controversy.
“Based on the facts that we know, it shouldn’t have come to this. I mean a 15 or a 14-year-old child is now out of school because of a piece of paper. Yes, the school has to enforce discipline, yes, every school child ought to obey the rules and show some discipline, so the blame is certainly not all on one side,” the Barbados Labour Party MP for St James North said.
Describing the situation as unacceptable, Hinkson was also of the view that the Ministry of Education should have intervened sooner.
“I can only hope that she goes back into the educational system as soon as possible wherever it is because really and truly it went too far. It needed intervention earlier, it needed calmer heads and cooler thought on both sides. But you know sometimes in human nature, people take hard and fast positions and don’t compromise. The end result [is] a child has been out of school for eight weeks because of a piece of paper. But to me it could have been handled differently even at the ministry level,” he added.
Meantime, the BNCPTA head argued that situation should have been handled differently, stating that his organization would have intervened had it been invited to mediate.
“We believe that we could have assisted if we were informed of the matter in the initial stages, so it would not skyrocket into something that it should not have been. But I am happy to hear that there is a meeting with the ministry and the parent. I have no doubt [they] will see quick resolution to the matter.
“Fundamental breaches have been committed in the handling of this matter and the intransigence by the parties involved is not the way to go,” Gibbs told Barbados TODAY.
He explained that the school
environment must be one that is “well sanitized” and “conducive to teaching and learning” and issued a call for all the “hostility” to end.
“We must be able to solve conflict. We must be able to work together to ensure that our education dollars are well spent and that the main beneficiaries of it benefit from it. The current environment and antagonism between parent and teachers must be a thing of the past otherwise our children will continue to suffer,” the BNCPTA head stressed.
However he remained adamant that everything must be done quickly to ensure that the child’s education did not suffer any longer.
“I would suggest that a school has been offered and response to the parent’s request that she doesn’t want the child to return to Springer school. In that case, it should be facilitated to ensure that she can get back into school to complete her work for CXC . . . so don’t waste anymore time on the matter, get her back into school,” he said.