The two unions representing the island’s teachers are not on board with Monday’s planned One People, One Barbados Human Chain Link in observance of the island’s 50th anniversary of Independence.
In fact, the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) and the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) in a joint statement made it clear that teachers could not be mandated to attend the event.
“The workplace of the teachers that day is at their assigned schools and any work with this project would have to be seen as entirely voluntary,” the unions said.
The chain link is being coordinated by the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the 50th Anniversary of Independence Celebrations Secretariat and two private groups –– The Power of Choice and Trident 10 TV.
One of the organizers Errol Griffith told Barbados TODAY the event was for the nation’s children, and he appealed to Barbadians to team up to ensure it was successful.
“It’s for our children. We only have one 50th anniversary and let us encourage people rather than criticize and say, ‘don’t do this and don’t do that’, let us all come together and see how we can make this happen,” Griffith said.
The teachers charged they were left out of the planning process, and argued the event should have been scheduled for the weekend as a family activity.
They also cited a number of logistical problems, chief among which was whether an adequate number of teachers would be assigned to monitor the students.
“It has been the norm that for field trips outside the school there should be a ratio of one teacher to ten students. To what extent will that be possible in this instance, and what liability is there for the teachers in the event of an incident?”
The unions also questioned whether bathroom facilities were in place for young children, whether schools had permission slips for children to be taken off the premises and what transportation arrangements were in place.