Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd yesterday dispelled reports that the extension of Christmas break for schools was the result of industrial action threats by the teachers’ union.
“Nah, no. No threats of industrial action,” said Lloyd, outside of Cabinet.
“The union and I and the ministry continue to have our conversation. Yes, it’s no secret that there are concerns that the unions have expressed, and those issues are being addressed to the extent that we are able to address them, but no threats.”
Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilson said yesterday she had “surveyed the [union] members to find out if they were prepared to do industrial action” if an extension to the break was not granted by the ministry.
She said the survey was conducted last week and a majority of members had agreed to move forward with some form of action.
“But since we’ve got the seventh now all of that has been called off,” Wilson said.
Lloyd announced on Thursday that schools will open on January 7 instead of January 2.
He told reporters yesterday the decision was “only fair”.
“You would remember that on December 14, the students left and then the teachers had to return for the following week to mark papers and prepare for report cards,” Lloyd said.
“That would’ve brought them up to almost December 20 or something of that nature and, of course, that’s only a couple of days before Christmas, that would not be fair for them.”
He added: “The change was made because after review we realized that the teachers who normally and traditionally have two weeks’ break during the Christmas holiday, same thing during the Easter holiday, did not observe and enjoy that this time and I think it’s unfair considering how hard they’ve worked.”
Lloyd said the extended break would not disadvantage students.
“…We feel that the number of school days in this particular school calendar is sufficient to cover the curriculum that is provided so students are not being deprived,” he said.
“Now, if there’s something that comes up whether it’s because of weather or whatever other situations that may cause a delay then teachers are committed, and they’ve done this over the years, teachers are committed to make up that time whether that is conducting classes after school or conducting classes on Saturday.”