Step down!

Union suggests that Jones should resign

Amid a worrying standoff between the Ministry of Education and unionized teachers, the President of the umbrella Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) Pedro Shepherd today suggested it
was time for Minister of Education Ronald Jones to call it a day.

Pedro Shepherd & Ronald Jones
Pedro Shepherd & Ronald Jones

“I am suggesting that if the minister is tired of the particular ministry, then he can simply write to the Prime Minister and ask him to relieve him of the burden of the Ministry of Education,” said Shepherd as he addressed a large gathering of teachers at the BUT’s headquarters at Merryhill, Welches, St Michael this morning.

Shepherd was particularly peeved that the minister had responded to the BUT’s latest correspondence by accusing the union of operating in bad faith. The union boss said this was
a clear sign that Jones had no intention of honouring the BUT’s request for a meeting with him to discuss pressing issues affecting teachers.

He also interpreted Jones’ response to mean that he was “tired” and therefore needed to be relieved of “the burden of the Ministry of Education”.

However, during today’s three hour-long meeting with teachers, Shepherd again gave the assurance that his union would do nothing to compromise next Tuesday’s Barbados Secondary School Entrance Examination, even as he served notice that the BUT was prepared to stage industrial action from Wednesday until the current term ends in June, unless Jones agrees to give teachers their requested hearing.

Just yesterday, the Minister of Education said that all systems were go for next Tuesday’s examination by an estimated 3,600 primary school students.

In fact, Jones had sought to assure parents that not even a strike by the BUT would get in the way of the crucial test, announcing that there would be contingencies in the event of a strike.

“I wish to assure parents that they have no need to worry about the conduct of the exam or the integrity of the exam. I hope that the threatened withdrawal of labour really is not done and I hope that all parties are on board to ensure that that comes off well,” Jones said at the time.

The Minister of Education said his ministry had been receiving calls from many Barbadians, including past teachers, representatives of non-governmental organizations and people from various walks of life expressing concern about the possible impact of a strike of the students sitting the exam.

“We stand ready to be mobilized at the instant. We want to thank them for that, but we know that our teachers would rise to true professionalism by working and ensuring that our young charges are able to operate in the examination without stress,” he added.

The latest row between the BUT and Jones stems from a recent incident at Ellerslie Secondary School during which a student is alleged to have spat on and kicked a teacher.

Both the BUT and its sister union, the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU), called out their members last week in emergency meetings to discuss the Ellerslie situation, the general problem of violence in schools and other matters.

Immediately after its meeting, the BUT president had issued an ultimatum to Jones to meet with his members by Wednesday or else.

But after Jones turned down its demand, Shepherd called out the teachers this morning to discuss the minister’s response and follow-up action.

In explaining why his union was so desperate to get a face-to-face meeting with Jones and to allow teachers to share their day-to-day experiences with him, Shepherd today highlighted the UNICEF sponsored School Positive Management Behavioural Programme, which he complained rewards children for bad behaviour and was contributing to the growing problem of indiscipline in the school system.

Shepherd said there were many issues in education stemming from children who were abusive to their parents; and who came to school and were abusive to members of both the teaching and ancillary staff, as well as to other students.

“Even at the primary schools children are telling teachers all sorts of things. Six and eight-year-old children are cursing principals to their faces. They are telling teachers they cannot flog them because the Minister of Education said so. We have to be careful what we say in public because children have the technology and they are hearing and seeing everything.”

The union boss disclosed that indiscipline has reached such a stage that there was a secondary school on the west coast where members of the Royal Barbados Police Force have to be stationed everyday because of the frequency of the calls from that school to quell fights.

Asked if Barbados could ever experience a situation like the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado in the 1990s, Shepherd said he hoped it would never reach that stage.

However, he warned that something very serious was going to happen in the secondary school system because children were bringing weapons to school.

The union boss warned that some students were openly selling drugs in school, as he suggested that Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite should enact legislation and get systems in place to deal with the issues of indiscipline in the island’s schools.

8 Responses to Step down!

  1. Donna Harewood April 30, 2016 at 5:30 am

    Mr. Shepherd is right about the drug dealing and weapons. Excessive and extreme fighting as well as rudeness to staff is also a serious issue. These issues long needed to be addressed. However, the idea that flogging is the way to deal with it is archaic. Trying to teach children to abstain from violence by being violent no longer works as a long term solution with today’s children as they see it as a double standard. They are not like we were. They judge adult behavior in a manner we never dreamed of and we must respond accordingly if we want change.

  2. harry turnover April 30, 2016 at 6:33 am

    Jones must recruit some or most if not all of the volunteers that he has line up if those teachers refused to teach until the term ends in June.
    Let them stage industrial action until the term ends in June and again from September until the end of that term in December,then those responsible for preparing their monthly salaries should also hold some meetings around the same time that they are to be prepared.

  3. Coralita April 30, 2016 at 9:37 am

    I don’t know why this man Pedro Shepherd just don’t disappear. He is getting on the public’s last nerve.

    You were quiet until the incident at Ellerslie School. Who are you to bully officials to a meeting? Who dead and leave you to rule the world?

    Jones isn’t tired of the ministry, he is tired of you and your stupidity. Go and strike, make sure you have cash in your strike fund because I would hate for the tax payers money to pay the likes of you and your disciples after no work is done to merit pay.

  4. dave April 30, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Jones has failed Big Time
    This Government has failed Big Time
    Freundel Stuart inspires No Confidence
    Total drag on the Treasury paying these people who are thinking about their pensions a lot
    Funny thing is that they feel that they are doing a good job.
    All we need is for the Government Ministers to understand that they are the SERVANTS of the people. If they recognize this , they would give way and stop being hostile and ignorant. It is only because they are pig-headed that the workers react the way they do. People send letters to the Prime Minister ; Ministers , Heads of Departments etc and many times there is no reply neither are the issues addressed. How long can you disrespect the people of this country -you ignorant Heads of Departments ? Some Senior Civil Servants in Barbados are like Aliens from another planet . Unbelievable attitudes and really unacceptable to way they view people especially if you are from the lower echelons or if you do not belong to their fraternity- whatever it is -and even then they do not show you the kind of love and care that is needed to minimize and solve problems.

    • Coralita May 1, 2016 at 3:52 am

      When your BLP government was in power as they say, I sent a letter to a ministry and never got a response. I guess I can say the same about them, they don’t give a damn about the people, they are disrespectful.

      Talking a load of rubbish.

  5. Carson C Cadogan April 30, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Pedro Shepherd you are very rude.

    You are half the man Min. Jones is. The voting public voted for Min. Jones to be a part of the DLP contingent in Parliament, no one voted for you to enter Parliament to represent them. No one voted him into the House of Assembly for an idiot like you to disrespect him.

    Shame on you.

    If Min. Jones was white you would never disrespect him you would have your tail between your legs. Thats how some Black people are. Some Black people like Pedro Shepherd take great pleasure in trying to pull down other Black people, just like how they tried to destroy Jeff Broomes, a great man.

  6. Sherlock Holmes. April 30, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    Dave sometimes when one has nothing constructive to say it is better for one to shut to fump up.for you to seemingly agree with the nonsense that Pedro Shepherd is doing is just mind boggling i believe that you have no children or you are just plain naive, i will leave it at that.

  7. Loretta Griffith May 1, 2016 at 12:51 am

    I felt very proud to hear Jeff Broomes say through it all, his integrity remained in tact.
    As someone whose blood runs through my vein being part of the dominant Bromes’ clan, it was/ is a proud moment for me.
    Happy and healthy retirement.
    I, too value my self-worth and integrity.


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