School closure is not holiday, warns Jones

Minister of Education Ronald Jones is calling for revision of the protocols governing the work ethic of teachers whenever there are unscheduled school closures.

In his feature address at the Caribbean Examination Council’s (CXC) luncheon and prize giving ceremony at the Accra Beach hotel today, Jones said in this age of advanced web-based communication, teachers had no excuse for not teaching their classes, even though their assigned school may be undergoing repairs or remedial work.

While he did not name Combermere School which has been closed for the last five weeks due to environment concerns, his point was in sync with similar concerns raised by the Combermere School Parent Teacher’s Association (CPSTA).

The CPSTA met last week at Queen’s Park, the City before delivering a letter to Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education Harry Husbands, outlining their concerns over the prolonged closure of the school.

It was during that exercise that CSPTA First Vice President Alan Marshall bitterly complained that many teachers had failed to make good on their promise to provide work for the students via the Internet while the school remained closed.

Jones argued that teachers needed to stop treating such periods as additional breaks at the expense of their students.

“Even if students are home the teacher should still be able to provide some level or means of instruction to those students rather than say, ‘well, school is down for three or four weeks so there is no contact’. What is the teacher doing? The teacher should be preparing the students for CSEC [Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate] exams rather than enjoying the so-called break because we had to do some work at the school.

“We have to revisit it in Barbados because whatever we do affect children, it affects the youth of the nation because they too have the ability to think. They have the ability to say, ‘but look you have yours [education], why are you denying me mine, my chance for a good education, my chance to be successful at what CXC is offering?’” Jones argued.

He acknowledged that there were some “sick buildings” in the education system, but said his ministry had been moving as quickly as possible to address the problems whenever they arose.

“We have had some sick buildings in education and yes we move quickly to try to resolve the issues because at the end of the day you might not be in the building yourself but your people and the students are in those buildings. But you have had so much confusion, so many people not wanting to cooperate to help to facilitate the process,” he charged.

11 Responses to School closure is not holiday, warns Jones

  1. Tony Webster December 17, 2016 at 3:50 am

    There will be, in the fullness of time, a plaque, (yes, in bronze, with gold-infilled lettering), erected in a place of honor and prominenece, at The Ministry of Education, which shall collect and collate, all the wise expressions that have issued forth from this Honourable Gentleman’s mouth, eg: “School closure is not a holiday”

    If Barbados cannot afford such physical testaments to Exalted Wisdom, we might economise by having some gifted youngster write-up the same, on a black-board at Cawmere…or we cud even have some little volumes printed, like Mao’s Tse Tung’s Little Red Book, to be gifted to students from Primary, through Tertiary, and from whence passed into the hands of those who follow. Yes…so as to guide them through the ravages and passages of Life In Bim.

    Hmmm…the only other alternative, which indeed might be better still- and a lot cheaper- as the preceeding suggestions cannot shout continually as is his wont…would be to make available to all students, a “JONES-ing APP” for their cellphone/tablets, which would automatically recite the great man’s sayings…AT FULL VOLUME…every five minutes. Yes…these would also find themselves onto the opening fanfare of TV-8 news very night…how did you ever guess?

    The Great Man himself, might be forgiven if in a fit of philanthropy, he gifted a copy of the APP…to his erstwhile good friend…one Mr. Jack Warner, who by then would most likely be a bit lonely in a small room in the U.S.A. and could comfort himself thereby, recalling, remembering, and rejoicing in those CONCACAF/ FIFA “Good Old Days”…which they mutually enjoyed.

    Cawmere? We is wukking on it. Reform of our Educational structure, policy-initiatives, and preparation of the next generation so as to give our children any chance of a future, or relevance, in this competitive world? It’s on the cards.

  2. Macmood Tata
    Macmood Tata December 17, 2016 at 5:08 am

    Jones n wuk up

  3. Lilian Lloyd
    Lilian Lloyd December 17, 2016 at 5:38 am


  4. Andrea Carter
    Andrea Carter December 17, 2016 at 7:51 am

    Apparently the government did not do their part in maintaining the buildings called school. Now they are flipping the responsibility on teachers to make a way for classes to be held. Is this government going to provide monies for these web base classes? Are you the government going to provide the computers/ cameras to the teachers?

    • Mervin Stevenson
      Mervin Stevenson December 17, 2016 at 9:07 am

      How does sending out assignments or youtube links for lesson instruction get expensive

    • Mervin Stevenson
      Mervin Stevenson December 17, 2016 at 9:11 am

      I agree the buildings should be maintained but let’s say there was a disaster at a school. Hurricane, flooding fire and the Ministry couldn’t find an alternative locations. I would like to think the teachers could still provide some instruction using the current technologies from they’re home even beds. To perhsps your son, cousin, nephew etc in the interim

    • Andrea Carter
      Andrea Carter December 17, 2016 at 9:14 am

      Mervin Stevenson but at the expense of whom?

    • Andrea Carter
      Andrea Carter December 17, 2016 at 9:16 am

      The kids or teachers should not have to figure out how to teach via social media.

  5. Sue Donym December 17, 2016 at 7:54 am

    Jonesie, first you’ll have to ensure that the teachers and the students have access to computers AND know to do more than WhatsApp, Snapchat and Instagram!
    And yuh done know that when it comes to marking any work done this way, you’ll have to talk extra pay, following a suitable consultation and threat of strike.
    You still haven’t figured out how to use the holidays to efficiently ready the schools for term time. You failed Repair and Refurbish 101 repeatedly. Labs and specialty rooms are woefully under-equipped. The real question is: In this age of web based communication, have you equipped the local educational institutions and students with the necessary tools and systems to allow meaningful web based interaction? Or is this just hot air?

  6. Ejd December 17, 2016 at 10:10 am

    I wish he would say the same thing about parliament.

  7. Misinform the Uninformed December 18, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    We educators have taken many an unjust tongue-lashing from the Honourable Minister in the past. As such, it goes without saying that he does not regularly have the support or agreement of the fraternity when he speaks on certain matters. However, I do somewhat agree with him on this particular topic. I believe we must do more to deliver instruction, or at least material and relevant content, in times where there are difficulties preventing the normal operation of the school plant. Granted, there must be some effort on the Ministry’s part to ensure all teachers are equipped to do this.


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