Thursday, February 29, 2024

EDITORIAL: Our Alexandra School students deserve better


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The students want the [industrial] action to stop, and we also want students to get an education. We want our voices to be heard. – Kerry-Ann Bernard, student spokesman for 50 plus fourth and fifth formers of the Alexandra School.
Now that a voice for Alexandra students has been publicly sounded, what will be the answer from Alexandra teachers?
Will the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU), in solidarity with Alexandra School staff, persist with its Tuesday after-lunch siesta, while Alexandra senior students, who want “to make a difference”, in their “huge undertaking” seek to take “care” of their younger first, second and third formers?
Can it make a difference to national thinking that this selfless group of senior students – who, seeing that “the few teachers left [at Alexandra] cannot do it all” – have decided that they will pitch in? Will it make a difference how the embattled teachers of the Alexandra School continue to view their role, rights, and themselves in their perennial power play with their principal, Jeff Broomes?
The true victims here are our children. Their present school dilemma is most certainly not of their making; they deserve better.
As student spokesman Bernard has argued, Alexandra “simply cannot afford to lose any more days to classrooms without teachers”. This must rest heavily on the minds of the BSTU’s Mary Redman and company!
Conventionally, in all cases of conflict-resolution in which children are involved, the well-being of these minors is paramount; nothing else transcends their interests. Indeed, should not!
Ms Redman’s planned “procedurally correct” Tuesday afternoon withdrawals to the staff room will see disruption of classes at older secondary schools, some newer secondary schools, the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic and the Barbados Community College. About 450 teachers and tutors have apparently pledged their support for Ms Redman and company.
Word is the BSTU plans to keep the pressure on until the Ministry of Education accedes to its wish – or will.
At the heart of the union’s latest annoyance is Mr Broomes allusion to a teacher who allegedly had refused for an entire term to teach a class assigned to her. The BSTU proffers it should not have been raised at the school’s speech day; that there is a protocol. But more importantly, is it true or not? Doesn’t Ms Redman and the BSTU have a responsibility to tell parents whether this was so or not, if for a whole term tutorship had been compromised?
We think too many words have got into the way of clarity on the Alexandra School issue. The obfuscation is doing our school students little good. We reiterate: our students deserve better.
Let justice be done though the heavens fall.


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