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Education Director ‘Not Up To Task’, Says Union Chief

Belinda Wilson

Belinda Wilson

By NICO SCAVELLA

Tribune Staff Reporter

nscavella@tribunemedia.net

BAHAMAS Union of Teachers President Belinda Wilson yesterday called for Education Director Lionel Sands to “do the honourable thing and move on” from his post.

Responding to recent criticism of her by Mr Sands, Mrs Wilson questioned his “purpose” as education director, and said if Mr Sands is not “up to the task of improving education” he should step down.

She said rather than attack her, Mr Sands should “use his time more efficiently by articulating his vision for education,” adding that his vision is “still unknown to the people he has been chosen to lead.”

Mrs Wilson’s statements came after Mr Sands said that the union leader’s actions in recent weeks over scabies cases in schools were over the top. Mr Sands claimed that the union president “interrupted and confused” matters with her actions.

In a statement released yesterday, Mrs Wilson said Mr Sands “never bothered to ascertain the facts from the teachers or the president.” She said his actions and comments “allegedly shows that he does not care about the welfare of teachers or students as he did not even visit any of the schools in question.”

She added: “Maybe Director Sands could use his time more efficiently by articulating his vision for education as he has occupied the chair for 10 years and his vision is still unknown to the people he has been chosen to lead,” she said. “He should answer the questions that are so frequently asked by teachers and his colleagues. What is his purpose? What has he done to advance education? What legacy will he leave? Has education been better or worse because of his tenure?

“If he focuses on these important elements he would not have time to attack the president . . .and our educational system would be much more successful, organised and relevant to meet the needs of the 21st century students and a 21st century nation. Examine yourself and if you are not up to the task of improving education then do the honourable thing and move on.”

Last week Mr Sands denied reports that another school had been quarantined due to a severe scabies outbreak, at the same time calling Mrs Wilson’s actions on the matter “way out of line”.

According to Mr Sands, Public Health Authority (PHA) officials carried out “a simple screening exercise” at Yellow Elder Primary last Wednesday.

Sources within the Ministry of Education told The Tribune that, following the screening exercise, one student was referred to a local clinic for further testing and the school given “the all clear”.

However, Mr Sands insisted that Mrs Wilson was “way out of line” in her handling of the scabies problem.

However, Mrs Wilson yesterday blamed Mr Sands for disseminating “erroneous information.”

“To the contrary, I ‘intervened’ and helped to ‘resolve’ matters at Yellow Elder Primary school as I convinced a few parents to leave their children to ensure they were screened,” she said. “In fact, if (Mr Sands) was proactive then maybe the president and the union would not have had to get involved.

“Let me remind him, that this was an emergency and it is a health and safety issue, and he should know that the employer, that’s the Ministry/Department of Education for whom he works and the BUT should work together with a view to developing a plan to resolve the problem. Unfortunately, instead of consulting with me, he prefers to insult me while I perform my duties.”

So far, DW Davis, TA Thompson, TG Glover Primary, Woodcock Primary and North Andros High School have all had confirmed cases of scabies.

This week, Mr Sands told The Tribune that the ministry has “no concerns” of scabies possibly spreading to more schools in the country.

Comments

IslandTransPlant 5 years, 3 months ago

You guys need to stop bickering and work together for the good of the kids, at the end of the day that's what it's all about if you guys can not work together then maybe you should both step down right now both of you are just pointing fingers.

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TheMadHatter 5 years, 3 months ago

Nonsense. The Director has all the power to change policy and make rules and make things happen or not happen in education. The country has had a D-average for a very long time.

When have you ever seen an article here where the Director was interviewed and gave his opinion and goals for the department and how he thinks the D average can be improved? I am a very avid news follower and I cannot recall ever hearing anything from him.

The boat is adrift at sea, moving in the wind as the Bible says - the wind bloweth where it listeth.

We need someone to put their hand on the steering wheel - and ten years is too long to wait.

As I've said before there is NO METHOD by which someone can even become a teacher in this country. There IS NO school that has a published set of classes that must be taken and passed, and a schedule for when those classes are held - so that somone from the private sector who may want to become a teacher can investigate and say - yes (or no) I can attend those classes at those times, I can afford those classes at those prices, and I can make a contribution to my country.

The Director has the door closed.

I challenge anyone to find a web link containing the information that I just stated does not exist. I will promtly apologize.

This country is full of foreign teachers, hired simply so that they will shut up and march to the beat of the drum. They know that if they step out of line they will lose their work permit. That's why the union leader cannot have an all teachers march down bay street to call attention to the problem - because Immigration officers will be waiting in Rawson square with the buses to take them straight to the airport, and back to their countries of origin.

You can't blame the teachers, because we have very few Bahamian teachers - only a small part of the problem.

TheMadHatter

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Cobalt 5 years, 3 months ago

Good point. But the D average isn't solely the teaches' fault. Many of these children are coming from dysfunctional homes where discipline and proper behavior are not exercised. As a result, these students bring their same ill-behaved, ill-mannered practices to school. Teachers spend hours everyday attempting to discipline unruly children rather than reinforcing their lesson plan.

Furthermore...... Bahamian children don't seem to be interested in a good education. They're too distracted by television and material possessions. Truth be told...... this is 2015. This is an age where knowledge and education are literally at our finger-tips. Hooked on Phonics....... Hooked on Arithmetic...... Hooked on Science..... etc, etc are readily available to any student who is willing to learn. The problem lies with fact that children don't care about attaining a good education, and parents are not pushing them either.

When I was in school, my mother had my brothers and I bring our school books to her everyday after school so that she could reinforce what we were learning and make sure we were performing academically. Not many parents in the government system engage in this type of practice..... yet they blame the teachers for their failing children. Parents need to do their part in improving the national GPA.

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duppyVAT 5 years, 3 months ago

Both of them should move off the scene in the best interest of the education system ........ PERIOD

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