Belinda Wilson, President of the Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) is of the view that the Ministry of Education’s officials lack empathy for the students, staff and administration of those severely impacted by Hurricane Dorian.
A major concern of hers is the alleged treatment of some teachers of the public school systems in Abaco that were displaced and subsequently evacuated to New Providence.
According to Wilson, “There is a major problem for the teachers that came from Abaco and are in New Providence. I think that they were not treated well. When they reported to the Ministry of Education, the Director of Education and others told them, that they should go to the Salvation Army, Social Services, to the Kendal G.L. Isaacs Gymnasium, to The Red Cross, for assistance.
“They have now placed teachers in various schools without even finding out if they have clothes to put on or transportation. One or two persons were placed to far flung Family Islands. How do you place me to a Family Island if my husband is working in New Providence, or one of the other Family Islands? How do you separate my family?”
These issues, she noted, are extremely disconcerting to her and the union.
“The ministry and the Department of Education, I must say, they have no empathy and they have no sympathy and all it is a talk, talk, talk, from the top, down,” Wilson claimed.
“I really look forward to the day, before I retire from trade unionism and especially before I retire as the President of the Bahamas Union of Teachers, that I will leave a system that is operating properly and that we will also have people in the ministry and the Department of Education who care, because their attitudes show that they do not care,” she maintained.
As for answers to questions she has posed to the ministry post-Hurricane Dorian, Wilson said, “I am going to remain on them - calling, writing and meeting with them, pushing to ensure that the teachers, at this time most of whom are traumatized, many of whom are homeless, those that don’t even have clothes, to put on their backs … Their children that are out of school, I am going to continue to push.
“I would have thought also, by now, that Education would have been able to articulate for us a plan, for the ninth graders, who have to sit Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC); for the 12th graders who are going to sit the Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) and who are graduating in several months. And so, it is really, really a challenge.
“I call upon the Minister of Education, Jeffery Lloyd, to firstly do his job first and foremost and ensure that the persons that fall under him, in his ministry, are performing their duties not just sometime, but all the time,” Wilson stated.
“Someone needs to manage the ministry, the Department of Education and their operations.”
Wilson claimed that the Acting Director of Education, Marcellus Taylor, he is non-existent and it appears as if he is just sitting in a seat.
Meanwhile, Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd announced that all government schools, with the exception of Hugh Campbell Primary and Maurice Moore Primary, will be opening Thursday, October 17.