Minister of Education Ronald Jones is calling for revision of the protocols governing the work ethic of teachers whenever there are unscheduled school closures.
In his feature address at the Caribbean Examination Council’s (CXC) luncheon and prize giving ceremony at the Accra Beach hotel today, Jones said in this age of advanced web-based communication, teachers had no excuse for not teaching their classes, even though their assigned school may be undergoing repairs or remedial work.
While he did not name Combermere School which has been closed for the last five weeks due to environment concerns, his point was in sync with similar concerns raised by the Combermere School Parent Teacher’s Association (CPSTA).
The CPSTA met last week at Queen’s Park, the City before delivering a letter to Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education Harry Husbands, outlining their concerns over the prolonged closure of the school.
It was during that exercise that CSPTA First Vice President Alan Marshall bitterly complained that many teachers had failed to make good on their promise to provide work for the students via the Internet while the school remained closed.
Jones argued that teachers needed to stop treating such periods as additional breaks at the expense of their students.
“Even if students are home the teacher should still be able to provide some level or means of instruction to those students rather than say, ‘well, school is down for three or four weeks so there is no contact’. What is the teacher doing? The teacher should be preparing the students for CSEC [Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate] exams rather than enjoying the so-called break because we had to do some work at the school.
“We have to revisit it in Barbados because whatever we do affect children, it affects the youth of the nation because they too have the ability to think. They have the ability to say, ‘but look you have yours [education], why are you denying me mine, my chance for a good education, my chance to be successful at what CXC is offering?’” Jones argued.
He acknowledged that there were some “sick buildings” in the education system, but said his ministry had been moving as quickly as possible to address the problems whenever they arose.
“We have had some sick buildings in education and yes we move quickly to try to resolve the issues because at the end of the day you might not be in the building yourself but your people and the students are in those buildings. But you have had so much confusion, so many people not wanting to cooperate to help to facilitate the process,” he charged.