It may be the start of a new school year but the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) is stressing that some of the same old problems continue to plague education.
And the union is calling its 440-strong membership to a meeting tomorrow to “plan for the safety”, professional development and well-being of its members.
“It is the start of a new academic year and to this end, as a union we need, among other things, to plan for the safety of our members and for their professional development and well-being. These have implications as they have the potential to affect our members’ responses to the many issues affecting their jobs, the impact of those issues on their ability to perform at maximum levels and the avenues of response to those issues that are available to us as a union,” the BSTU said in a release this afternoon.
One of the major concerns of teachers during the last academic year was that of violence in schools, including student-on-teacher violence.
The issue gained prominence after a 13-year-old female student of Ellerslie Secondary School reportedly kicked and spat at a teacher, not long after a student of another school was reportedly suspended for one day after a teacher was “pushed right down”. That teacher, in her 50s, was sent on two years’ sick leave.
In addition, educators continue to battle the Ministry of Education over its decision to dock teachers’ pay for attending union meetings earlier this year and there is the perennial fight over pay to correct school-based assessments set by the Caribbean Examination Council.
“We will be looking at some ongoing and persistent problems like appointments and the many anomalies surfacing in that process at some schools; violence in schools [methods of deflecting, coping with and reacting to violence of various types]; school-based assessments, the docking of teachers’ pay for attending union meetings among other matters and safety and health issues,” the BSTU said in its release.
It added that the Ministry of Education did not give these matters the level of attention they deserved and warned the union would “have to do what is necessary” to change that approach.
Tomorrow’s meeting begins at 1p.m. at the Barbados Workers Union’s Solidarity House headquarters.