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The public has to be involved

Re your the Editorial of August 16, 2012.

I completely disagree with your view that the commission of inquiry into the Alexandra case should not have been called.

The situation had been thrust into the public domain for over the past two to three years and public opinion was such that the teachers or principal at the centre of the dispute were often vilified without the public knowing all the facts of the case.

We have held commissions of inquiry like that into the St. Joseph Hospital, an institution that was closed and no longer has an immediate effect on the nation. However, since the closure of the Alexandra School is not even an option under consideration does it not deserve therefore the opportunity to move forward from these tragic circumstances with clear instructions for the future.

Some members of the public believe that the situation could have been sorted quietly if the parties in question had remained levelheaded and tried to find a logical solution to the problems. However the issue has been going on for so long that persons have become emotionally and mentally traumatised.

And more importantly, the over arching system as it now stands has failed to provide authoritative guidance and resolution to the problems.

If we consider that the education of our children is important then the creation of an atmosphere in which children, teachers, principals and parents feel able to perform at their best with mutual respect and dignity is vitally important.

If a decision had been taken to remove either the current principal or the teachers at the dispute without the public knowing why such an action took place, then the public would have come to an erroneous conclusion that the person or persons in question were being treated unjustly. Letting everyone hear the grievances of both parties was necessary.

It has, as you eloquently outlined in your Editorial, revealed to the entire nation that major changes are needed to the Education Act and the corresponding Civil Act for hiring persons and managing schools. By contrast would you prefer that such sweeping changes, which you recommend, take place without the public knowing why they were indeed needed?

I read, with trepidation, that these situations seem to be common place in our country’s schools (note the testimony of Mr Patrick Frost on page 3) but are hushed up so that no one knows about them. Keeping problems like these quiet often leads to a perpetuation of abuse and extreme behaviour which is now coming to the fore with the Alexandra School.

If the inquiry can shape public opinion and the Government into recognising that something is wrong with our education system which needs immediate attention, then for the hope of our children’s and our country’s future development I say it is money well spent.

— Celia Greaves (not a Greaves related to any of the teachers in the dispute)

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