A four-hour meeting between the Ministry of Education and teachers of the St George Secondary School ended this evening with uninhibited expressions of emotion by the educators, who felt their concerns were finally being taken seriously.
Emerging from the meeting, which had on its agenda a number of concerns relating to ill-discipline, insufficient curriculum, and environmental problems, teachers openly shed tears, stating that they felt “liberated” and “listened to”.
President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) Mary Redman, who was also unable to hold back the tears, told Barbados TODAY that the sensitivity with which ministry officials – which included Chief Education Officer Karen Best – treated the teacher’s frustration, augured well for future industrial relations.
“I would hope that this is an indication of things to come. If it is, we would be singing hallelujah.
“Teachers told me that this was the first time that they felt listened to; they are saying that they feel liberated and they feel as if something would come out of this,” Redman said.
“It was a very emotional meeting for many of the members, many tears were shed as teachers spoke about their hurt and frustrations that they have felt. The chief obviously came with a very open mind and listened very attentively and humanely,” she added in reference to Best, a former president of the Barbados Union of Teachers.
While no concrete decisions were made at the meeting, Redman revealed that there were promises of a “combined and collaborative look at curriculum reform, strategies to deal with the ill-discipline at the school and the environmental problems.
“The issues ran deep, it had to do with the fact that the present programme at the school is not meeting the needs of the children and it is causing a high level of frustration both for the students and the teachers. We think that it is directly linked to the ill-discipline at the school,” the BSTU president explained.
The trade unionist expressed the hope that after today’s show of emotion by teachers the public would realize the level of emotional investment the educators put into the profession. She also pleaded with the public to stop the pervading anti teacher sentiment, which arises whenever teachers express their frustration.
“Not many people get to see the level of emotions which teachers put into what they have to do. This is why I say that that anti-teacher sentiment out there, the public vilification of teachers, is so unwarranted besides being so unfair. Teachers in this country do so much with so little, they give of themselves, they give of their time, their effort, their energy and even their limited finances. Teachers work hard and go way above the call of duty to mould the youth of this country,” she stressed.