Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Senator Dr. Michael Darville said yesterday that the party is deeply concerned by the “chaos” in the public school system that erupted because of ongoing health and safety issues between the Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) and the ministry.
“The PLP calls on the minister of education to set aside ego and sit with the BUT executives in good faith with a view to ironing out and resolving the occupational health and safety issues that so concern educators that they find it necessary to take such drastic measures, negatively impacting the education of thousands of our students,” Darville said in a statement.
According to Wilson, the majority of teachers, who voted in a straw poll last week, voted in favor of taking industrial action. She said teachers are worried about returning to the classroom as COVID-19 continues to spread across the country and accused the Ministry of Education of failing to have adequate health and safety protocols in place.
There are suspected cases of the virus in at least four schools on New Providence, Ministry of Education Director Marcellus Taylor said.
While some teachers did not show up for work yesterday, education officials said the resumption of the national exams went on without any issue.
But Darville said the escalation between the two sides was avoidable.
“The obvious deterioration in the relationship between the government and the BUT and the chaos that followed resulted in an unacceptable state of affairs and Minister Jeffrey Lloyd has much to answer for,” he said.
“Given the timeline of the originally scheduled nationals exams, the subsequent cancellation and rescheduling of the same, coupled with the projected date of school opening, one would have thought that the minister of education would have met with the BUT executives and negotiated an action plan that was satisfactory to all relevant stakeholders. Apparently this did not happen.
“The PLP has publicly advised the government that the lockdowns were to be productively used by the government to strengthen the health and safety infrastructure against the spread of COVID-19, so that operational disruptions in both the public and private sectors would be minimized. Ostensibly, this advice included public school operations.
“This advice was clearly ignored by the government and the country is seeing and experiencing the result of this inaction and other poor decisions regarding education policy during this pandemic.”