Back to School AND No Child Must Be Left Behind

COVID 19 Impact

One only has to drive pass the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) any day of the week during the the 3PM to 6PM time slot to appreciate the debilitating effect the raging pandemic continues to wreck on the country’s main economic sector. The number of vehicles seen in the car park can be comfortably counted on a single hand.

Consistent with how Covid 19 has catspraddle business the recent posting of Goddards Enterprises 9 month unaudited financial statement paints the sorry tale.

The threat to a sustainable way of life is real!

The inability of key stakeholders – the Ministry of Education (MOE) and respective teacher’s unions to discuss Covid 19 protocols in a constructive environment in order to facilitate the commencement of the proposed September 21, 2020 term has come as no surprise. The relationship between successive governments, Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU) and Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) has been unnecessarily acrimonious through the years. The same point made here about the failure to pass the Integrity in Public Life Bill is apt. All sides will never secure what they want, however, for the greater good there must be give and take.

Our leaders MUST find the solution to get the nation’s children back to school. All agree we have to find ways to coexist with Covid 19 because it will be with us for the foreseeable future even if a vaccine or therapeutic treatment is approved by end of year. This is not the time for the unions and MOE to engage in the usual pedantic offerings cloaked under the guise of industrial relations best practice. Children getting back to the classroom has wider implications for the country if we assess the relationship between home, school and work.

It was reported the 340 teachers and principals who turned up today for a general meeting called by the MOE had a constructive engagement. Let us hope attempts will be made to share findings with the executive of the BUT and BSTU to ensure there is consensus on the best way forward. Although the unions are important stakeholders the MOE has the responsibility to lead the process.

The issue of the reopening of schools is one high on the agenda for almost every country in the world. The risk benefit to decisions taken by the MOE must be data driven. There is the reality we have to accept that COVID 19 is active in the environment we have to exist, therefore there is an inherent risk to being infected. This means controls to mitigate must be well thought out, publicised, monitored and enforced. As adults – MOE, BSTU, BUT and others – we have a legal and moral duty to protect our children during one of the most frightening periods in the existence of humankind.

The feedback coming from some teachers that they are on vacation and should not have been asked to attend the meeting held today must be regarded as a minority view. If it is not then may God help us if this level of mentality exist. The government is on record declaring its committent to pay the large public sector wage bill until the economy improves. One thing the economists agree on is that it takes an economy longer to grow than it takes to contract. The time is coming soon when the government will have to start printing money and with it the implications for negative impact on the foreign reserves. The Freundel Stuart government found itself in a similar situation of printing money to pay public servants, a reread of archived central bank reports should remind us how that played out. Should we have the infants do a performance of ‘there’s a hole in my bucket dear Liza? This is not time for the usual political rhetoric.

We acknowledge the concerns of all sides.

We have to ensure the environment is safe for our students.

We have to ensure the method to deliver the curriculum ensures no child is left behind.

The use of the repetitive WE is not accidental.

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