Commissioner Frederick Waterman – Photo Credit: Nation
The final arguments from lawyers representing all parties in the Alexandra School Dispute have been submitted and Barbadians await the report from lone Commissioner Frederick Waterman. It is obviously the report will be delivered before the September school term begins.
There was a sense by BU during the last two weeks of the Inquiry that it was hurried along; and for an obvious reason. The first school term is scheduled to begin on the 10 September 2012 and given known timelines the Waterman Report will be late. Therefore the 64k question is – what will be the next phase of the AX Affair?
It is early days yet to evaluate the performance of the Alexandra Commission. However, BU is concerned the Commissioner made some questionable decisions which will impact the quality of the final report. For example, it is understood from our sources that the aunt of Miss X whom we reported on another blog the student in the transcript affair was to go to live in the USA to facilitate school there, was in Barbados and prepared to give evidence. BU understands she was seized with interesting bits of information as a result of her visit to the school to which Miss X was to attend and where the transcript was allegedly sent by the secretary. Our source has advised that she had proof no such transcript was received by the US school. A reasonable conclusion to be made, the transcript was never sent. We have been reliably advised that Commissioner Waterman refused to allow this witness to be called.
The impasse featuring the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) and the Principal of Alexandra School, Mr. Jeff Broomes can only be characterized as a comedy of errors or rather a tragedy of incompetence on the part of the Ministry of Education and the Personnel Administration Division. Before I proceed, let me state that I am firmly behind the BSTU. Nonetheless, I will endeavour to be fair to all sides.
The BSTU is one of the oldest trade unions in Barbados, with a proud history of achievements on behalf of its members. In the recent past, it has been overshadowed by the younger and more partisan political Barbados Union of Teachers whose main achievements, in its relatively short history, seems to be positioning its executive officers for higher office in the Ministry of Education and now in Government. But for its constant wrangling with Jeff Broomes, the BSTU goes about its business, almost unnoticed by the public, in a calm and dignified manner.
On the other hand, Mr. Broomes, who has been able to mount a façade of caring for the children in his charge, continues to provoke controversy whenever he is out of the limelight for any extended period. He usually catapults himself to national notice by making statements that are calculated to be controversial, and then he invites reaction by saying things like, “Bring it on!” Rather than keep quiet in order to avoid an escalation of the current episode, he allowed himself to be quoted in the Nation saying that he would do it again. He is aware of what transpired when he made the offending statement the first time. Why would he do it again if not to enflame passions and call attention to himself? However, while he is basking in all the attention that he is receiving, the children that he loves and cares so much about that should be his focus are going without instruction at this crucial juncture.
I would like to divert a bit and ask you [Caswell Franklyn] to make your services available to the BSTU/Mary Redman. What is this woman doing to the school children at the Alexandra School?
I was a member of the BWU for about 18 months before I left these shores to take up employment overseas. The first thing the Late Sir Frank Walcott told a group of new members of which I was one, was that the Union doesn’t go on strike until it gets public sympathy and support. Where did this woman do her trade-unionism training? A few weeks ago she was all over the news media trying to defend the indefensible i.e a teacher submitting SBA studies late to the CXC resulting in all the students failing the subject. Today teachers at the institution wouldn’t be in the classroom due to a dispute between her union members and the principal. The biggest Trade Union, NUPW isn’t backing her and from all reports the BUT members not losing a day’s pay over a non-issue.