An “annoyed” Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite has condemned a call by the island’s teachers’ unions for the immediate expulsion of a teenaged student of Ellerslie Secondary School accused of kicking and spitting on a female teacher.
At the same time, Brathwaite said he was so perturbed by the behaviour of Barbadian girls that he had been losing sleep over it.
Speaking yesterday at the monthly meeting of the St James South branch of the Democratic Labour Party at the branch’s office in West Terrace, St James, Brathwaite was strong in his criticism of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) and the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) for their stance on the incident.
The Attorney General argued that the student might have had behavioural or other problems and needed help.
However, he was irritated at the BUT and the BSTU for demanding the girl’s dismissal, adding that he expected that as teachers, the union bosses would care about the child’s education.
“What I did see that annoyed me was a call for the expulsion of the student automatically. I thought to myself any 14-year-old girl who kicks a teacher has a problem. She is only 14 years old so we need to work out what is the problem. Separate her from the school, yes, but I cannot understand how the head of a trade union who is supposed to be a teacher, and who by virtue of being a teacher cares about the students, never tried to find out what was wrong with the child.
“If she is wicked let us see how we can help her. If she is under the influence of drugs, let us see how we can help her. If she is influenced by the bad behaviour of the rest of the class, let us see how we can help her. However, the call simply cannot be automatic expulsion,” Brathwaite stressed.
The chief legal adviser to Government said he was disturbed to the point of losing sleep over a growing trend of misbehaviour by Barbadian girls.
He disclosed that for the “first time ever”, girls outnumbered boys at the Government Industrial School.
“The first time ever in the history of Barbados. We are now trying to do the analysis and trying to work out how can this be. What has gone wrong? What is going on? And in many ways we began seeing the signs a little while ago, because if you go to football matches today you see both the boys and girls with spliffs in their hands smoking. The girls are usually with their children. You are seeing more girls involved in fights in the bus-stands and at schools. There are 13 and 14-year-olds fighting over grown men. These are the kinds of issues that when I read them as a Member of Parliament, as a father, as a Barbadian, it does not sit well with me. It concerns me. It does not allow me to sleep properly. I figure we have some serious issues that we need to address,” Brathwaite said.
The Member of Parliament for St Philip South also contended that the Ellerslie School students action reflected the failure to teach children to settle issues peacefully. However, he emphasized that the answer was not in expelling her since the laws of Barbados state that all children should be in school up to the age of 16.