Wilson: consultation needed on reforms
Bahamas Union of Teachers(BUT)president Belinda Wilson yesterday expressed frustration with the Ministry of Education for announcing policy changes earlier this week without adequately consulting with the union.
“The BUT, which represents the teachers, will like to make it unequivocally clear that we have not been consulted, or provided with any information nor were we a part of any discussion on this matter,”said Wilson in a statement, adding that the industrial agreement between the union and the government requires such consultation.
The union said it is frustrated that the ministry this week announced via the media that schools would be ranked based on examination results and that teachers would be held responsible for their students’performance without consultation.
“The Bahamas Union of Teachers and our members all want improved examination results, increased grade point averages and more, but, these improvements do not just happen,”said Wilson.
“There is a responsibility on the part of the Ministry of Education to provide material, supplies, small class sizes, discipline policies, sufficient teachers and classrooms. The ministry has a difficulty providing the basic necessities such as chalk. Schools lack sufficient equipment such as desks and chairs for our nation’s children. Teachers cannot receive their correct salaries and benefits for months and even years.”
The ministry is seeking to reform the public education system in order to improve student performance.
“Well, we are of the view that the first step in fixing the education system is to appoint a competent minister, permanent secretary and director who are responsible for the vision of the institution. Begin at the top,”said Wilson.
She added that the union will not”stand by idly”and allow the rights of members to be trampled upon.
“As the bargaining agent we must be respected and we call on the minister of education and permanent secretary to follow protocol and respect the rights of the union and our members,”she said.
Wilson is calling for a draft proposal of the ministry’s plans to be forwarded to the union and for a meeting with the ministry on the issue.
“The BUT also awaits the role that the union is expected to play as a partner and stakeholder to ensure the success of the education system,”she said.
“Members are on notice that the union has not agreed with any new policies and will not agree nor adhere to any policy sent out bythe Ministry of Education that the union has not been consulted on prior to implementation. The president is asking all shop stewards and members to remain vigilant.”