Pencils down

Teachers demanding compensation from CXC for marking SBAs

After seven years of unsuccessfully seeking compensation for marking the Caribbean Examinations Council’s (CXC) School Based Assessments (SBA), the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU) has implemented an immediate boycott of the SBA’s with backing from the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT).

The BUT this afternoon joined forces with the BSTU at a meeting at the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) Solidary House Headquarters and pledged its support as both unions demand payment from CXC for marking the SBAs.

President of the BSTU Mary Redman, whose union has been leading the fight for compensation for nearly a decade now, told a combined force of teachers that the message must go out to CXC that enough is enough.

Redman said both CXC and the Ministry of Education had ignored their pleas for all those years and it was now time to take action and stick to their guns by not correcting any more SBAs.

In fact, she has put the Ministry and CXC on notice that if a resolution was not reached this year, things could get worse next academic year.

She said the ball was now in CXC’s court to meet with the union.

“Let us talk. They determine that. We are on our course of action and next year, we may not supervise anything. I am saying if we don’t get the matter resolved between this year and next academic year, we may have to step up the ante in a way that we determine,” the BSTU leader warned.

The meeting also rejected the position of the Ministry of Education as reflected in a circular addressed to principals of public secondary schools and signed by Acting Chief Education Officer Karen Best, a former president of the BUT.

President of the BUT Pedro Shepherd (left) and president of the BSTU Mary Redman.
President of the BUT Pedro Shepherd (left) and president of the BSTU Mary Redman.

That circular, dated March 24, 2015, today’s date, read: “Please be advised that the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation and the Caribbean Examinations Council have NOT entered into any agreement recently for payment of the correcting of the School Based Assessment component of the CSEC or CAPE examinations.”

The letter continued: “The position of the Ministry is that the correcting of the School Based Assessments forms part of the duties for the teachers.”

Best said in her circular that all teachers involved in the preparation of the SBAs were therefore expected to grade and submit the same grades as was the custom and practice.

“This information is extremely important and the Ministry is requesting that this circular be drawn to the attention of all teachers who are involved in the marking of the School Based Assessments and be placed on the notice board,” the Acting Chief Education Officer wrote.

However, Redman made it clear that dealing with this component of the CXC was not part of teachers’ normal duties because it was an externally set exam.

But while the unions will refuse to mark the SBAs, Redman has given the assurance that nothing would be done to jeopardize the children.

President of the BSTU Mary Redman
President of the BSTU Mary Redman

“There is nothing that we are doing this year that will jeopardize the success of any student at the CXC. You, the teacher, have worked with and supervised the students to produce their final SBA. What we are saying is that is where our work this year will stop,” she stressed.

“When those SBAs are handed in, you will collect them. You will make a list of all the persons that have handed in their SBAs. You will keep a copy of that list and you will hand in all of the SBAs and that list to your heads of department to be passed on to the principals of the schools. The principals will do what they have to do, as they normally do. When they get samples, they send those samples to CXC for moderation.”

This year, the union head added, the sample will consist of a full sample, which comprises all of the students. “That is the only difference,” she declared.

Redman complained bitterly that it had become a big problem to get responses from the Ministry of Education and when a reply was forthcoming there was little to hold on to.

“You can’t get a meeting. You don’t get a response, or you are getting a letter saying, ‘we are in receipt of your letter and we will revert to you’. That is now a standard response and it is a strange response,” the BSTU president noted.

At today’s meeting, teachers and their leaders reported that CXC had been piling on the work which was forcing them to work before school, afterwards, during breaks, holidays and even weekends. They said an additional load was planned in the coming months.

9 Responses to Pencils down

  1. Winston Crichlow
    Winston Crichlow March 25, 2015 at 12:57 am

    What about the BSSCEE? Who is going to correct those papers?

  2. David March 25, 2015 at 5:22 am

    These teachers are all about money, are the SBA’s not marked during working hours?

    • Val Green March 25, 2015 at 10:23 am

      They are marked during school hours, before school hours, after school hours, so kinds of hours. The teachers are still going to assist the students with the completion of the SBAs, so in effect they would be doing their duty.

  3. Sarah Pomeranz Layne
    Sarah Pomeranz Layne March 25, 2015 at 6:00 am

    It’s not about correct the papers.. it’s about grading the school based assessments the students are required to do.. think of it as home own being turned in for a grade… who’s supposed to grade the homework??? The teachers.. it’s part of the job..

  4. Val Green March 25, 2015 at 6:10 am

    People are paid to correct BSSEE scripts, albeit a very small amount. What also happens is that the persons moderating Food and Nutrition practicals are paid, as well as those doing the Foreign Languages orals and aurals. There’s nothing wrong with CXC bringing in persons at specific times to mark those SBAs. Some subjects carry a number of SBAs and they are very time consuming and at the end some teachers are accused of all kinds of things by CXC after marking them all. To avoid the alleged biases therefore it would be best if they operate with the SBAs the same as they do with the exam scripts.

  5. Carl Harper March 25, 2015 at 8:26 am

    After the deafening silence of the BUT during the Alexandra/Jeff Broomes saga under the former president who has since gone on to higher government office, it is fascinating to watch this newfound “love affair” between the two teachers’ unions.

    One must therefore wonder what is propelling this budding relationship between Mary Redman and Pedro Shepherd. Whether the fight is with the Ministry of Education or CXC, these two “lovebirds” are finding a common battleground.

    To put matters in perspective, Ronald Jones is a member of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and a former president of the same BUT that he is locked in battle with over untenable situations at two schools. Shepherd, on the other hand, placed his “hat in the ring” to be the candidate to carry the DLP banner in St Michael South-East last General Elections.

    It is ironic that Minister Jones is now condemning the tactics of Shepherd and the demands of Redman, when he might have acted similarly during his tenure as BUT president.
    At the end of the day Jones and Shepherd may still be political family, brothers for all I know. Since it is said that “blood is thicker than water,” let me mind my own business.

    But let’s find out what immediate past BUT president Karen Best, now Deputy Chief Education Officer (and chief in waiting), has to say regarding these situations that are threatening to destabilize the education system.

    Ms Best, can we have a comment on if the action of the BUT and demands of the BSTU are justified, unreasonable or too hasty? Do you believe the Ministry of Education has acted expeditiously in resolving the matters at both Alma Parris and Parkinson? What is the Ministry’s plan of action in the event teachers take strike action? What would you look Pedro Shepherd in the eye and say to him? As a former union head, what do you think of Mary Redman’s request of CXC to pay teachers for grading SBAs?

    We shall have details and answers to these questions, and more, as soon as Ms Best can find her voice. This is Rover the roving reporter live on location.

  6. David March 26, 2015 at 12:14 am

    This is one I think the ministry and CXC should stand it ground ,and let ms redman know that enough is enough , and let the court decide this one, teachers get 3 vacations a year ,big salaries what more they want , the treasury ? this money will still be charge to the tax payers

    • AD March 26, 2015 at 5:55 pm

      Three vacations a year and a big salary? Clearly you are not a teacher and have no knowledge of what the teaching profession truly entails. Those 3 vacations are 3 opportunities for workshops to enhance teaching skills and develop new material and curriculums. And that “big” salary? Baby sitters make more money than teachers do, and teachers are expected to take care of children, both physically and emotionally, and educate them too. Know what you speak of before you spout nonsense. If the teachers of the world ever go on strike then the people affected would know what time it was. And caring about the children does not exempt teachers from getting a decent salary – they have to care about their light bills too.

    • AD March 26, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      And teachers pay taxes too!


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