Minister of Education Ronald Jones today gave a tongue lashing to teachers who are demanding payment for marking School Based Assessment (SBA) projects, a necessary component for matriculating the various Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) certification programmes.
In a fiery address this afternoon at the Ellerslie Secondary School’s Speech Day and Prize Giving Ceremony at the Western Light Church of the Nazarene in Oxnards, St James, Jones said the teachers needed to “look into your souls” to determine if teaching was indeed their calling.
He suggested the educators were putting the educational well-being of the students at risk for a few dollars more.
“Teachers, I want to say that you have to look into your souls when you deny children the opportunity to matriculate . . . by simply saying, ‘I want money to mark an SBA’.
“You are going to suffer the little children for $60 or $100 or even $120 [extra]. There is no money that I can offer that would make it palatable for the marking of anybody’s script. We have 180 children in third form [at one school] who didn’t get their SBAs marked and CXC sent back a ‘U’ [ungraded] because somebody thought that they shouldn’t mark the SBAs,” lamented Jones.
The minister did not address the concerns of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) that correcting SBAs was not part of a teacher’s job description and that the SBAs were an external examination, a position supported by the Caribbean Union of Teachers.
The BSTU has also charged that the CXC was paying some teachers to correct SBA subjects.
However, the Ministry of Education has maintained that the teachers had a duty to mark the exams and would not be paid to do so.
Jones today said as a former teacher himself, he would have had difficulty justifying the position taken by the teachers.
“I have been a teacher since 1976 and I couldn’t have done it because I couldn’t have slept. I get very passionate about these things . . . . This is my calling and if you say it is your calling you have to follow that calling,” stressed the outspoken minister, a former BSTU president.
“If you go to church you know that every Sunday the pastor, whose calling is to win souls, tries to win souls and makes those altar calls. So what are you telling me; that the ones who should really be like Jesus Christ, who was the first and greatest teacher, are going to now renege on that responsibility? It is not fair to the youth of Barbados and the children . . . Look into your consciences; look into your souls,” the minister said to a loud applause from the audience.
One of the arguments put forward by the BSTU is the volume of work involved in fulfilling the SBA requirement for the CXC.
Jones said his ministry was open to the idea of obtaining additional help for the teachers with higher numbers of SBAs to correct. However, he gave no indication that he was willing to compromise on the payment issue.