BUT president Belinda Wilson.
By SYANN THOMPSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
BAHAMAS Union of Teachers president Belinda Wilson said “heads should roll” due to the “perennial” shortage of teachers, adding more than 100 teachers are still waiting to be placed in schools by the Ministry of Education since the 2019-2020 school year started.
“Teachers are needed, and they are needed now. Some heads should roll because this is a perennial problem,” said Mrs Wilson.
Over 90 percent of these teachers who graduated from the University of the Bahamas had government scholarships and, according to Mrs Wilson, by now these teachers should have been allocated to schools.
“Sadly, teachers and guidance counselors who have graduated from the University of the Bahamas many of whom have had the privilege of government scholarships, grants and tuition fees assistance and who have successfully completed their studies are still at home waiting to be employed and posted in schools. The acting director said that the Ministry of Education is awaiting vetting for these teachers and when the vetting process is completed they will be employed. This shows the incompetence and inefficiencies that exist in (the Ministry of) Education,” said Mrs Wilson.
Teachers are needed in New Providence; Abaco and its cays; Eleuthera, specifically Harbour Island; and Mayaguana, said Mrs Wilson. The shortage of teachers for various disciplines include general primary school teachers, art, music, physical education, Spanish, sciences, English, religious knowledge and mathematics.
The shortage has had a negative impact on teachers, she said, and affects not only their well-being but also has an affect on students.
“There is teacher burn out, teachers are substituting without a free period five days per week, the syllabus and curriculum not being taught fully because many subjects that are on the timetable are not being taught because there are insufficient teachers. Most of the times the substitution is just babysitting because the teachers more often than not are substituting in areas that are not within their disciplines,” said Mrs Wilson.
The union president has also been pushing for the national exam timetable to be rescheduled in the wake of Hurricane Dorian. “The examination results is just a symptom of the breakdown of the system. How can students pass examinations if they did not have a teacher for six months out of a nine months school year?”
Teachers are accustomed to working in the midst of staff shortages, but Mrs Wilson said this should not be the norm.