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BUT calls for revamp of education system

The Barbados Union of Teacher (BUT) is recommending radical changes to the zoning system that determines how students are assigned to secondary schools.

BUT President Pedro Shepherd said the current system did not work and contributed to some of the poor results in the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination.

“What we have is a system that needs retrofitting. If we can retrofit the system of allocations of secondary schools in Barbados, then I think things will be better. We either go full zoning or do no zoning at all.

“We either develop schools of excellence in certain areas – maybe in the heart of Bridgetown where everybody can access it – and then go to the school next door, feeder school system, something we have to do. But the system needs overhauling,” he told Barbados TODAY in a recent interview.

Shepherd absolved teachers of any blame for poor showing by students in the Common Entrance Examination, insisting that the educators worked hard to bring the students up to par.

“No one can blame teachers for poor results. I heard in the Parliament of Barbados recently on the debate on the Teachers Order 2016 how hard teachers work and how underpaid teachers are, so no one can blame teachers for any poor performance,” Shepherd said.

“Teachers work extremely hard with students. Teaches give students extra lessons – whether it is for pay or it is free – but teachers work extremely hard. They go to the schools during the Easter holiday, they do mock exams, they put the children through the necessary drills; so I am saying that the teachers of Barbados cannot and should not take any blame for the poor results in Barbados,” he stressed.

Meantime, Shepherd said the union was still awaiting word from the Ministry of Education on its latest letter pertaining to deductions from the salaries of teachers who attended two union meetings earlier this year.

The matter, which has been a major bone of contention between the two sides, led to two days of protest action by the BUT earlier this month.

“Since the protest [we] wrote the ministry and I am yet to get a response from that. We are still giving them until September 1, to the beginning of the school term, to say what they intended to do,” Shepherd said.

The new school term begins September 5.

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