Jones has failed
Our minister of education is an amazing man. I have read of his latest rant, namely the disruption of the teacher transfers his ministry is now forcing on thousands of students in over half of our public secondary schools. Does he actually believe intelligent, independent-thinking Barbadians will not see through this blunder?
The timing, the scope and lack of proper thought and foresight regarding this unholy mess actually belies any concern for students.
The myriad problems spawned by this madness have been itemised in the press. Jones has had no meaningful answer (as opposed to just any old response!) to any of these! His flippant response that “no one is perfect” reeks to high heaven of the callous disregard for students, teachers and parents that has come, unfortunately, to characterise his ministry.
Certainly, when you are dealing with the lives and the situations of all these constituents — students, teachers, parents — you owe it to them to be more careful and thoughtful, sensitive and prudent in your actions. Wouldn’t you agree, Mr. Jones? Or do you still feel that you, your technocrats and advisors (whom the Prime Minister assures us all have university degrees!) can make such a decision then simply say: “This is not a perfect world. No one is perfect.”?
Sir, you and your people get paid handsomely to ensure that at least a good job is done! Surely, as you urge students, you must aim for excellence! You and your shambolic ministry have failed yet again. Not perfect, not excellent, not good, not even fair and certainly, by no stretch of the imagination, satisfactory — poor, poor, poor!
But let me deal with this transfer debacle specifically.
The record shows that these teachers of Alexandra have been recognised and awarded for their professionalism, dedication, initiative, innovation, concern for and commitment to their students both at the school and nationally. Can anyone refute this?
The Report of the Commission clearly states that these teachers breached no law or regulation. Can anyone deny this? Did the commissioner lie?
History shows these teachers have had no major problems with any previous principal whether old scholar or not; whether female or male. Can anyone dispute this?
I challenge Jones, or anyone else for that matter, to present any evidence they have to the contrary!
Why then would Jones even suggest that these teachers would have difficulty with [new principal] Orson Alleyne? Nonsense, Sir.
Is Alleyne going to indulge in untenable managerial behaviour and unorthodox hiring practices? Is Alleyne going to mismanage the school by denying relevant heads of department their statutory responsibility to be present at interviews of persons in their subject area? Is Alleyne going to discriminate and victimise of certain teachers? Is Alleyne going to indulge in bullying and workplace abuse? Is Alleyne going to demean and belittle teachers in the sight and hearing of students? Is Alleyne going deliberately and purposefully to create divisions among staff? Is Alleyne going to manipulate the students?
You see, Jones, this is what the Alexandra teachers could not accept from any leader! And, I dare say, neither should any single worker in Barbados!
Many of our National Heroes fought too hard and sacrificed too much for us to accept that brand of behaviour and those kinds of practices! Don’t you think so?
Surely, Jones must be aware that there were reasons why Jesus “could not get along” with the money-changers in the temple; reasons why Martin Luther King “could not get along” with the then governors of Alabama and other Southern states; reasons why Nelson Mandela “could not get along” with the apartheid regime in South Africa; reasons why Gandhi “could not get along” with the English colonial establishment in India; reasons why Bussa “could not get along” with his masters in Barbados!
Tell me, Jones, does that in any way incriminate or indict Jesus, MLK, Mandela, Gandhi or Bussa? Or were there legitimate reasons? So it is not the mere fact of failing “to get along” that is the issue — it is the reasons why such “getting along” was not possible!
Jones, the Report of the Waterman Commission, a historical document to be read by all those to come after us, makes disturbing findings and sound recommendations to address the issues uncovered in the findings. You know full well that this en masse transfer of teachers was not mooted, stated, suggested or implied in any way, shape or form. Four teachers, identified by name, were recommended for transfer. Generations to come will be horrified by the glaring disconnect between the contents of the Waterman Report and what has been done.
By history shall you be judged! And it will not absolve you. This is your legacy. Sad, isn’t it?
— Lionel James