The Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) has reacted with disgust to an announcement by Minister of Education Ronald Jones that five schools will not be ready in time for Monday’s opening of the new school year.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of this afternoon’s launch the Mobile Device Management System for primary and secondary schools at the Ministry of Education’s Constitution Road headquarters, Jones revealed that the opening of St John Primary, St Giles Nursery, All Saints Nursery and the St George Secondary would be delayed by a week, while the Wesley Hall Infants School opens next Wednesday.
“Every other school must be opened unless Hurricane Irma turns back,” Jones said, while assuring that students at the affected schools would not be disadvantaged in terms of teaching time.
“In education there is hardly any loss because the first week is really more for preparatory and readiness, so there shouldn’t be any losses to those students. In addition three of these schools are nursery schools, which cater to three year-old students just going in.
“You don’t be settled in the first week because you are still setting up,” he said.
The minister also revealed that the St Lawrence Primary School was facing some challenges as a result of unfinished infrastructural work as well as dust from a neighbouring car park, but expressed confidence that the matters would be resolved before the new term begins.
However, with just five days to go before the September 11 start to the new school year, BUT President Pedro Shepherd said some teachers were simply upset that “they have been kept in the dark until the proverbial 11th hour.
“There needs to be progress reports made on the summer works programme. The ministry would have done a tour of the schools about a week and a half ago and they did not see it fit to invite us to come on the tour, nor have they officially updated us of what they would have seen on that tour. So we started to do our own touring and investigation of schools but because of the time and the weather we did not get to visit all,” said Shepherd, who also accused the Ministry of Education of poor planning, while complaining that some the infrastructural work had only started five weeks ago.
“I also believe that because it is only a nine week programme, schools that are expected to take eight out of those nine weeks to be repaired should not have any activities such as camps going during the summer. Instead a lot of this work started five weeks into the holiday and now you have people having to work during the night to get the job done because the extent of the work requires a lot more time.
“This is the challenge that they had and I believe that they should have managed the time frame better,” Shepherd insisted.
However, the teachers’ spokesman said his members remained committed to doing all within their power to ensure a smooth September restart.
“Teachers have been at the school for the last two weeks trying to get their individual classrooms ready. The teachers are ready and they have been improvising where they can. We however love to wait until teachers go into the schools on Monday to have a better idea if they and their students are settled,” the BUT president said.