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Respect one another

Chief Education Officer Laurie King (left) listens intently to Minister Ronald Jones.

Minister of Education Ronald Jones today called for a general system of “professional respect” in schools as the new term opens on Monday.

His comments came during today’s meeting on education among thousands of teachers and stakeholders, even as the minister noted that the past months have not been the best for the education system.

“The last several months have not been our most stellar moments. Our profession has not enjoyed its most stellar… The glare of the public eye was zeroed in like it has never been zeroed in before, and in this case, the nakedness of the profession in all of its gore was placed before the public of Barbados.

“Many days after reading the newspapers I closed my door even more tightly. I did not want to be recognised as the Minister of Education because I never thought the public face of education was so steeped in whatever you thought it could be… Fear took possession of my bosom,” he said, even as some teachers in the audience chuckled at his recount of the period of the Commission of Enquiry.

But even as he noted the hardships for education, he added that the only way to go forward was for all parties in education to show respect, regardless of whether there was friendship among parties.

“We don’t have to be lovers. That is the call that only nature people sometimes understands. We just have to be professional. We have to respect each other’s rights, each other’s roles,” he said.

The education head said nevertheless, teachers needed to understand that the principal was head of the school.

“We must have the ability to speak and to be heard. The principal has a right to speak and to be heard. The teacher has a right to speak and to be heard – everybody has a right to speak and to be heard…

“A principal is a leader in our schools. Year heads, senior teachers, department heads are leaders but then there are other leadership roles performed by others in our schools,” he said, noting there were teachers who were called on based on particular talents to take the lead in certain areas.

But, again Jones said: “There must be fairness, there must be justice and there must be equity. You can’t demand of one something but not demand of all the same. It has to be level. Yes there may be people that you like better than you like others. That is our humanity… What must remain at its core is our professionalism. Respect the rules, the policies and procedures, the rule of law must be part and parcel of our environment.” (LB)

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