Improving the quality of teaching
Two of the indispensable ingredients necessary for a child’s successful education are a home life conducive to learning and good teaching in school.
Improving the quality of family life is a rather complex matter, admitting no easy or short-term solutions.
Our concern today is the quality of teaching in our public school system.
There are many excellent teachers in the system who have dedicated their lives to the education of generations of young Bahamians.
Through mastery of their subject matter as well as a passion for imparting this knowledge, these teachers have contributed significantly to national development.
Today, many teachers find themselves in the position of having to act as surrogate parents for student’s whose home lives are extraordinarily difficult.
Indeed, the range of disciplinary problems confronted by teachers makes an already challenging profession even more difficult.
Still, the quality of much of the teaching in our public schools is poor and weak. Why is it that some of our students in Family Island schools with small classroom sizes and a superior student-teacher ratio, still leave those schools with weak literacy and numeracy skills?
It comes back to the quality of the teaching.
Contract negotiations between the Bahamas Union of Teachers and the government usually cover salaries, conditions of service and related matters.
What the country would like to see are more discussions on the improvement of teaching in our primary and secondary schools.
This may include matters ranging from teaching materials to classroom size. But more importantly is the quality of preparation and instruction by the teachers themselves.
One of the toughest battles Minister of Education Desmond Bannister may have to fight is the development of a more rigorous protocol for teacher evaluation.
This includes better assessment of the productivity and overall performance of teachers, utilizing a range of transparent and fair metrics.
If other jurisdictions are any indication, it is likely that the union establishment and many teachers will steadfastly resist a more rigorous evaluation of the performance of the latter.
The public increasingly wants to know what measures are being taken by the Bahamas Union of Teachers to help in the development of more rigorous evaluation mechanisms of its members.
For successful reform of public education, tackling this complex and potentially thorny issue will require deft politics and public support.
We will repeatedly return to this issue.
The campaign to improve the quality of teaching in our public school system must be joined by the public at large.
This is critical if those battling for reform within the system are to have any chance of success.