By ADRIAN GIBSON
WHEN young teachers tell me their complaints, I can relate to them wholeheartedly as a former teacher myself.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Education (MOE) held an orientation exercise for 193 newly appointed teachers. I’m sure that was well-attended and a nice gesture.
However, an even nicer gesture would be for the MOE to take note of the following suggestions, which would alleviate many of the pressures young teachers (and teachers generally) face.
- Please don’t take forever to pay teachers their salaries. There are many new teachers who go for months without drawing a single dime. How are these people supposed to live and pay their bills? What’s more, when they are finally paid, it’s a fraction of what their actual salary should be and – again – these teachers must wait for months or years to have their salaries regularised.
- If teachers are being posted to a Family Island, notify them by June as opposed to the week before school opens or the week that school opens. Allow them an opportunity to get their affairs in order.
- Provide new teachers with upfront housing allowance to at least pay their first and last month’s rent on the Family Island. It appears that the MOE fails to understand that these teachers are young graduates who likely don’t have the resources, so when they are posted to another island, their landlords are expecting payment.
- Insist on the College of the Bahamas offering a more practical teacher mentoring programme that would better serve prospective teachers before they graduate as opposed to after. That programme should include classes on how to prepare confidential reports, record/register keeping, preparation of forecast books, creating high pressure scenarios with parents and students that could actually happen, etc.
- Provide teachers with adequate teaching facilities. I recall my first year at SC McPherson which, I think, was before they built the block at the back of the school. I “floated” that entire year from one classroom to the next depending on which was free at the time. It was as if I was the mother duck with my students trailing behind me until they learnt that each week, on this day, we would be in that class and on another day in another class. Many teachers can attest to having done the same. This takes away from learning time, especially when one must move projectors, screens and other learning tools and then set up. This can take a toll on that floating teacher.
- Provide teachers with adequate supplies. Teachers have to go out of pocket far too much and are never reimbursed for expenses for papers, whiteboard markers, erasers, overhead projectors, copies, etc. At the very least, the MOE should provide teachers with a stipend every term, which could be used to assist in paying for these items.
- Ensure that Human Resources at the Department of Education (DOE) does not frustrate young teachers by losing important documents, which usually results in delays of payment, appointment letters and so on. This is unacceptable and has been going on for far too long. Why should teachers be delayed or made to suffer because people at the MOE/DOE have been negligent?
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