The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) do not represent the official position of Barbados TODAY.
by Neil Marshall
This old saying has been used from time immemorial to instill into persons that “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure” and that timeliness and proactivity in addressing matters that have the potential to be harmful are best dealt with when they are first brought to our attention so as to avoid what may be painful and embarrassing consequences later. Someone needs to share this concept with the Mia Amor Mottley Government.
This old adage was captured in the back-page headline of the Sunday Sun of September 12, 2021 “Govt Slow
– BAMP: Most measures recommended since July”, where the President of the Barbados Association
of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) was quoted as saying: “ . . . we would have recommended most of these measures since July. None of it was heard before but I guess now that it has been heard . . .”
This administration has continuously placed political expediency over and above doing the right thing and following the advice of those competently charged with the management of this COVD-19 pandemic.
What is even more shocking is that Santia Bradshaw, Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training was the acting Prime Minister on the 30th July, 2021 just around the time that BAMP’s advice was given and the only public contribution she could make was to declare: “I think that this is going to be a time of reflection of not only the past but also looking forward to the future as well.”
The statement was roundly chastised by a COVID-weary island, for it revealed absolutely no foresight by the acting Prime Minister and substantive Minister of Education who was no doubt armed with the warnings of BAMP
on this issue.
It is lamentable that while thousands of parents were reflecting on a lost year in their children’s education and “looking forward to the future” and thousands of teachers were reflecting on the debacle that was the on-line teaching experience as conceptualised and implemented by the Minister of Education and “looking forward to the future” that would allow them to reconnect with their charges come September, Ms. Bradshaw like her leader was reflecting and lamenting on the inability to be “in costumes . . . and . . . reveling during the upcoming holidays” but otherwise “looking forward to the future” of the next election and their political fortunes by turning a blind eye
to the exhortations of BAMP.
Of course, those who are at the feeling end of this arrogant and belligerent behaviour of the government are the most vulnerable in our society, who comprise as a class the poor and lower income earners (if any earners still exist out there) and include the elderly, the disabled, disproportionately women and of course our children.
It is this latter group that today I am most concerned about, because they represent our future and the failure
of the Prime Minister/Minister of Education to heed the advice of the BAMP and I have no doubt other advisors that our prized children are unable to attend school in the traditional and preferred way by the vast majority
of parents; face to face hands on, group and individual instruction by teachers.
The continual absence of our children in the physical plant of the school, particularly the primary institutions where the discipline required to participate in the on-line method of teaching has not been cultivated, is likely to have ramifications for years to come on a generation of our youth.
If the government is unable to bring itself to some commonsense and heed the advice of those professionals such as the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Environmental Officer who Parliament has vested with the legal authority to manage this pandemic but also those whose advice you belatedly solicited (presumably to take their best advice and not to stymie and neutralise their very public utterances on this issue) we will all pay dearly in the short-term and the long-term through our children.
We shouldn’t be surprised though, the PM seems to have developed a fetish for soliciting the best advice, even expensive legal opinions, and having received it, then goes off on a frolic of her own.
In this debacle by the Government, we must spare a moment for our beloved teachers who
pre-pandemic often suffered from varying levels of classroom burn-out but must certainly be totally exhausted and at their wits end trying to manage on-line classrooms so as to deliver the best as they have been trained to do.
Lest we forget, many of these unsung heroes are loco parentis and play a vital role in the socialising and culturalising of who we are as a people and who we want to be in the future. For the children’s sake Prime Minister and Minister of Education, for the sake of this country’s future, stop playing politics because your vision of the future is clearly not ours!
Neil Marshall is an attorney-at-law, candidate for St Phillip South, and the shadow spokesperson on education for the Democratic Labour Party.