By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
ANGRY Central Andros residents are not sending their children to school in protest against the Ministry of Education’s decision to transfer a mathematics teacher from Central Andros High School to North Andros High School.
Students in the area have not attended school for the past two days and many of their parents have protested in front of the school, hoisting posters featuring statements like “No Miss Dean, No School” and “No Computer teacher in this day and age?”
Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald is expected to travel to the island to meet with the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) on Monday, though some parents questioned why he hadn’t made an attempt to meet with them sooner.
Angry about having their children’s educational needs “ignored” for years, the parents see the recent transferring of a maths teacher as the last straw. But they are also complaining about the condition of the school and the alleged absence of specific teachers.
“We are lacking in every area of the school,” one parent said. “There is no woodwork teacher, no science teacher. There’s no computer teacher.”
Another parent said: “Because the classes are so deteriorated and so dilapidated, we have a serious problem with frogs and snakes and my son is one of them. He’s not afraid of frogs and snakes and he tells me every other two weeks ‘mommy I had to take a snake out of somebody’s class’.”
The school’s PTA president expressed his displeasure at the ministry’s decision to transfer the maths teacher, Ms Dean. “My kid came to me one morning and she was horrified,” he said. “She said ‘daddy they taking away my maths teacher’. I could see the pain in her eyes because guess what, my kid was backwards a little bit in math and since this teacher came to Andros, the whole school turn around. Now you want to take away from my kids?”
Another parent said: “There’s no way our kids can be prepared for the BJC and the BGCSE.”
According to Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilson, only two of the school’s 210 students attended school yesterday.
Education Director Lionel Sands told The Big T the parents are misinformed about why a maths teacher was transferred, admitting that the ministry has nearly exhausted its efforts to convince them to end their protest and send their children back to school.
He said he is concerned that the students are falling behind in their studies while the protest continues.
“One of their math teachers was transferred,” he said. “Normally what the Ministry of Education does is provide a math teacher in a high school for every 120 students to enable the teacher to be given a full schedule for each week that the teacher is required to teach. In Central Andros High there are 200 students, meaning the ratio would be less than what the ministry requires for teachers to be fully engaged.
“At North Andros High there are 400 students and two teachers so the ministry redeployed one teacher to North Andros since that high school was understaffed in math. The challenge is that prior to school opening there were three teachers at North Andros High. One resigned on the 25th of August. We did not have enough time to make the usual arrangements so an internal adjustment was made.
“That’s the situation. For those extra 200 students in North Andros High without a teacher, we transferred one and it didn’t impact Central High the way the parents are making it out. The number of students at the school was a little larger before but now the numbers have dwindled so we make adjustments based on the staff.”
Mr Sands said despite explaining the issue, parents are not accepting the ministry’s explanations because they believe the action was taken intentionally to limit the school’s resources. “They feel this way because of prior teacher shortage in certain areas like carpentry and music, areas where all schools in the Bahamas faces challenges because although we have the money to hire teachers, no one is coming forward to teach in those fields,” he said.
“We will not change our position,” he added.
Ms Wilson told The Big T that despite the protest, teachers showed up ready to teach during the past two days.