The president of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) is charging that the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) is continuing to exploit Barbadian teachers by making them correct School-based Assessments (SBAs) papers without compensation.
Mary Redman told Barbados TODAY that CXC is not the employer of local teachers and the SBA is one of the three examinations papers externally set and moderated by the CXC to achieve certification at the CSEC and CAPE level.
“CXC pays examiners to correct the other two papers in recognition that they constitute a part of their own exams but will not compensate the teachers for marking the third part, the SBA. In this way, the ministry is hiring out the services of local teachers to a third party – CXC for free and that nowhere is there such a provision outlined in the law as it relates to the duties of a teacher,” Redman said.
The BSTU president said under the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) ministry officials said they would seek an opinion on the matter from the Solicitor General. The BSTU provided the ministry with documentation to support the call for compensation and asked that it be forwarded to the Solicitor General, she explained.
“The BSTU received a three-sentence response from the then Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education claiming that the Solicitor General had offered an opinion indicating that the correction of SBAs constituted part of a teacher’s duties and no supporting reason or references in the law were provided as an argument in support of this opinion,” she said.
Redman stated some BSTU members have decided not to correct SBAs and they have been doing so for the past five years. She told Barbados TODAY the movement is growing in the region as teachers in Jamaica are now compensated by the Government for correcting SBAs and there is also movement by Grenada and St Lucia in their demand for compensation. She also highlighted that in Trinidad, the teachers’ union had taken the ministry of education to court for threatening punitive action against their teachers who refuse to correct SBAs.
However, she said, unfortunately, the members of the BUT have not shown solidarity on this matter but indicated that when the battle is won all secondary teachers will benefit.
“The BUT has never come on board with us in this regard. The majority of BUT teachers in their secondary schools do correct SBAs and they correct the SBAs that our members don’t correct. When we win this battle, our teachers will benefit. The argument is clear, logical and valid, therefore, the executive of the BUT should be supporting the BSTU with this,” she said.
Redman said their actions would not negatively impact the students but they are beyond frustrated and would like to receive compensation for taking on additional duties on top of their already heavy workload.
“The actions can in no way impact negatively on the student’s success as the CXC has a legal obligation to all persons registering to sit their exams to ensure all of their examination papers including the SBAs are corrected,” she said.
“Personally, I do not think that Government should pay teachers to correct CXC as the SBA is not part of a domestic or an internal exam. It is done in the school setting, yes, but it does not form a part of the internal assessment of students. It is part of CXC’s externally tested and moderated exam. I would like us to sit down and discuss how our teachers can be properly compensated if they expect us to, supervise, mark and do all of the data entry that CXC now requires,” she said.
“CXC has never in its 40 odd years of existence sat down with any Caribbean trade union or the umbrella body which is the Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT) to discuss remuneration for teachers for correcting any of their exams. They have never done it,” she said.
Meanwhile, principal of Combermere School Vincent Fergusson said his students would not be affected as the school had implemented measures to ensure that their SBAs are submitted by the Thursday, April 18 deadline.
Speaking to the media at the re-opening of the renovated female bathroom he said no student at his school would suffer because teachers have decided not to correct SBAs without compensation.
“In a few days’ we should have them all ready and uploaded to CXC,” he said.