Notes From a Native Son: A Cautionary Tale Of An Education System In Decline, Alexandra Impasse The Symptom

Hal Austin

What is Barbados coming to when in the early years of the 21st century a small group of teachers can walk out of a school on the grounds that they do not like the head’s management style and his competence as an administrator?

What is even more scandalous is that government and trade unions are taking this rag bag of activists seriously and crippling the education of some of our brightest young people, the very future of Barbados. In the midst of all this our prime minister remains embarrassingly dumb, unable to even call a successful meeting of both sides.

Of course, the obvious action is to give the teachers a deadline to return to the classroom and start teaching the pupils, and set a date for serious discussions of their grievances. But it must be made clear in no uncertain terms that no matter what they think of the head’s management style, it is not a striking issue. We cannot replace one perceived sense of bullying with another, because one side is shouting louder than the other.

The crisis at the Alexandra School also exposes the inability of the minister of education to deliver on his duties, and the street-fighting bullying tactics of a small clique of trade unions. Those of us who are big supporters of and active trade unions can only look on in amazement as a major union, not involved in the silly show of strength at the school, has now thrown its considerable weight behind its sister union.

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