Instructions to teachers from the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) must be treated as directives from the Ministry of Education, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler has said.
With the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) insisting that teachers would not mark the CXC’s school-based assessment (SBA) projects unless they are paid, Sinckler all but said Wednesday the teachers have no choice but to comply with the ministry’s instructions in this regard.
The BSTU has maintained that marking SBAs was not part of teachers’ job description and they should be paid for the extra work.
The issue has been a contentious one between the Ronald Jones-led ministry and the teachers, who recently staged a March of Respect on the streets of Bridgetown to press their case.
The Ministry of Education subsequently threatened to dock the pay of those who participated in the march, which took place during school hours.
Usually not one to speak on matters outside of his portfolio, Sinckler weighed in on the vexing issue Wednesday during a visit to the three primary schools in his St Michael North West constituency, ahead of next week’s Common Entrance examinations.
He argued that by virtue of being a regional institution, which gets its mandate from the collective ministries of education, the CXC’s instructions must be enforced at the national level.
“The Caribbean Examinations Council is not an agency which dropped from Mars. It is a regional entity that is constructed and composed of regional governments. It just has a secretariat and headquarters that executes its policies, but the policies of the CXC are established by regional governments working together with all of the stakeholders.
“So when you are working for the Government of Barbados you’re indirectly working for CXC. They are not separate employers putting work on other people, and to say otherwise is not to fully understand how the process works,” Sinckler said.
He further stated that the arrangement between CXC and Barbados was not dissimilar from the one with the Caribbean Community (CARCOM), and therefore any disputes over policy must be settled within the regional framework.
“There are other CARICOM agencies that establish rules, processes and procedures on a regional level. Those are agencies that compose the CARICOM secretariat, but their rules are agreed to by the regional governments and they are applied nationally. Nobody considers them to be an external body imposing their will. It is something we are all agreed upon because it is part of the integration process,” the minister said.
“So if there is an issue the unions, the ministries of education and the personnel within CXC can sit down and work it out, but it can’t be done only in Barbados without it being done in St Lucia, without it being done in Trinidad and other countries because that creates a problem. It is a regional issue and it has to be settled at that level,” he stressed.