After being issued with an ultimatum to meet with the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) by tomorrow to discuss the worrying rise in school violence or face the wrath of educators, the Ministry of Education has requested a three-day extension.
This afternoon BSTU President Mary Redman told Barbados TODAY her union wrote the ministry on Thursday demanding the meeting and received a response the following day, explaining that travel commitments made it difficult for the ministry to hold the meeting tomorrow.
Instead, the Ronald Jones-led ministry proposed to meet with teachers on Friday to discuss the recent spate school violence, which has attracted national attention.
However, Redman would not disclose it the teachers, who met this afternoon to discuss the issue, had agreed to the proposed deferment.
“I can confirm that we received a letter from the Ministry of Education proposing the new date. The teachers met today and we have sent off our response to the Ministry of Education only this afternoon. We are not sure if they have received our response as yet and it would not be proper protocol for them to read it in the press first,” Redman explained, while expressing surprise at the speed with which the ministry responded to teachers’ demand.
“It only goes to show that they can show urgency when they want to,” she said.
Scores of teachers gathered at the National Union of Public Workers headquarters at Dalkeith, St Michael last Wednesday, where a unanimous decision was taken to present the ministry with the ultimatum.
During what was a rare opportunity for the media to listen in for most of the session, at which passions ran high at times, the teachers also moved to call out their membership to a meeting on Wednesday of this week if the ministry dismisses their demand.
“We are going to give this as an ultimatum and the understanding, since the ministry has a way of ignoring our ultimatums, if that ultimatum is not met then we are going to have to do something about it,” Redman said at the time, while accusing the ministry of not caring for the welfare of teachers.
“I see that the ‘something’ will require a mass meeting on Wednesday the 21st to finalize where we go from here,” Redman had added.
She also emphasized the fact that nearly two years after Minister of Education Ronald Jones had promised to establish a committee on violence in schools, nothing had happened in this respect, adding that should Jones agree to the meeting, the union would again call for such a committee.