Saturday, April 13, 2024

EDITORIAL: Avoiding another Alexandra

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Our education system continues to attract a lot of attention, and unfortunately not for the right reasons.
Talk about negative behaviour in our schools is not new, having gone on for years. Much debate has been about how ungovernable some of the students have become from travelling on the public service vehicles and about their sexual escapades on the same buses, where they are fed an unwholesome diet from the music boxes. We have also heard about students threatening teachers and having total disregard for dress codes. Absenteeism and tardiness have also been matters of concern.
We recall when truant officers had to be placed in the bus terminals and around Bridgetown to ensure that children went to school.
The lament about the decline in standards has created fodder for newspaper columns and call-in programmes. The specific transgressions persist but only seem to be talked about among frustrated teachers, who, according to reports, can’t wait to put in their 33 & 1/3 years. 
We are now hearing that some security guards are saying that their presence at schools is to protect property and not to part fights between children.
It now looks as if violence in schools has become a natural occurrence.
But the problems in the education system are not only at the level of the children. We just have to recall last year’s commission of inquiry that Government set up to look into tensions between the principal and some teachers at The Alexandra School.
In spite of the pressure that Government came under for establishing the inquiry, it can be argued that the action taken has resulted in a resolution to a matter that created a pall over the education system. Though there are still rumblings of disquiet from some quarters, we wonder what the atmosphere would have been like now if things had been allowed to spiral out of control.
Reports suggest that something similar to what existed at Alexandra is now simmering at another educational institution, with Pedro Shepherd, president of the Barbados Union of Teachers, calling on those in authority to give urgent attention to what is going on before it becomes a national issue.
Shepherd has spoken about a collective bargaining agreement recently that, if approved by Cabinet, would ensure that an Alexandra type of situation would not recur.
No repeat of the furore which engulfed Barbados as a result of problems at Alexandra should be allowed.
It is now up to those who have the authority to work expeditiously to see that the education system in Barbados is not again shaken by internal squabbling.
Our teaching profession can do without these problems. 

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