The bargaining unit for 4,000-plus teachers has outlined more than three dozen issues and concerns, which it hopes is addressed within the next five years.
According to Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President, Belinda Wilson, the union has discussed over 35 different concerns and has made a number of recommendations to Minister of Education, Jerome Fitzgerald.
The concerns include human resources issues, the decentralisation of both the Ministry and the Department of Education, school policing, health and safety, career paths and the revision of the present curriculum.
The implementation of school boards is also high on the list.
“During a recent meeting, Minister Fitzgerald committed to meeting with us once per month, so that we can be up to date with what’s happening in the Ministry of Education on a daily basis,” Mrs. Wilson told the Bahama Journal.
“At that time, we discussed with him the 35 different concerns and recommendations. He has also given us the leeway to put the recommendations in writing. He should have that list of concerns and recommendations in short order.”
Mrs. Wilson said the union is so far happy with Mr. Fitzgerald’s performance.
“We have met with the full team already and the one thing we believe is that the new minister has an open mind,” she said.
“What we think will be a plus for him is that he is coming from a business background, which means this would be the first time that a businessman gets to sit in the chair as minister of education. And that’s a plus in terms of the budget; however, he’s a novice in terms of education.”
She continued, “So we hope that he would walk slowly, but not to slow but swiftly enough to make some changes and to effect change in a positive way.”
Mrs. Wilson said the union intends to play a pivotal role in the educational system going forward and wished Mr. Fitzgerald all the best.
“I did say to him, however – in uncertain terms – that there has to be some changes in education. And when we talk about changes, we’re talking about the players. If persons are not performing they have to be moved,” she said.
“In our view, it has nothing to do with politics. Teachers are asked to perform and we are also evaluated on a yearly basis. We are saying that the persons in the Department of Education should be evaluated and if they are not performing then they need to be moved to another area.”
Mrs Wilson is proposing the revision of the teacher’s annual evaluation in order to ensure that it fits in with what teachers are doing.
“We are also looking at new career paths for our guidance counsellors. We are doing a lot and we are going to work closely with the Department and the Ministry of Education to make sure that schools are repaired on time and that staffing is adequate in the schools.
“We are going to definitely look at the curriculum especially at the primary level because both the ministry and the union are of the view that there are too many classes and courses for the primary students. So, we want to make sure put a concentration on numeracy and literacy. There is so much we have in this plan.”