Minister of Education Ronald Jones has lashed out at the “egotistical spitefulness” he says has continued to embroil the Alexandra School and wider education sector in controversy.
Likening it to “a threat to governance” and “civil disobedience”, Jones said after being personally “shocked” at “all the spew” that emerged from the recent Commission of Enquiry into the management of the St. Peter school, the “natural” choice for authorities was to “wash the bowl out”.
“There are persons in our midst who have forgotten their own journey and today suffer children not to come onto them, but out of their own egotistical spitefulness deny them a right to an education that they had free of cost because of the Democratic Labour Party,” he said.
He was speaking last night in support of Democratic Labour Party Christ Church West candidate Verla De Peiza’s constituency office opening at Forde’s Road, Christ Church.
The Barbados Secondary Teachers Union, which is representing the majority of the 18 teachers transferred from Alexandra to 16 other schools, reported this week that a number of them were on sick leave.
BSTU President Mary Redman has called the transferred unprecedented and the union has been meeting at its headquarters and agitating to meet with various government officials to get their concerns resolved.
But the minister said while he was not a doctor and could not say “if you are sick or not” people “must look at what messages they are sending”.
“I am not saying to anybody that the rights of people must not be protected or observed … I spent in my own time nearly 12 years as a leader of a trade union in Barbados and I fought for the rights of workers and I fought for those rights respectfully. I fought for those rights based upon the legal structures, the rule of law,” he said.
“I never walked out and say ‘I am having a meeting’. If I wanted a meeting I communicated with the ministry and said, ‘Look I need your permission to have a meeting’, because we are taking teachers from teaching children. So we would communicate [that] ‘We need a little time’ … and you would send it by letter.
“But you turning up for meetings and ain’t notifying anybody — you are just turning up. Something is wrong with that … and these never ending meetings. You cannot take from an individual what is legally his or hers, you cannot take from the state what is the state’s rights,” he added.
Jones also said “every year literally scores of teachers move across schools, either through transfer, voluntary requests or as you look at the nuances of the system you strengthen here”.
He also noted that it was not unusual for officials to separate people who could not get along.
“For some reason sometimes human beings just can’t (agree). There is a spiritual dynamic that isn’t working so you separate them and you move them,” the minister stated.
“But for some reason what we are encountering now is almost like a threat to governance, civil disobedience that really has no meaning or genesis based on what has happened.”
He praised Alexandra’s new principal Orson Alleyne and the 18 teachers transferred there, and who started their new assignments yesterday.
He said his hope was that “this can continue right through and that the disturbance to the learning lives of children will come to an end”. (SC)