Editorial: A Squabble Not Fit For The Schoolyard

THE dispute between Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd and the president of the Bahamas Union of Teachers, Belinda Wilson, has all the hallmarks of a schoolyard squabble.

Jeff Lloyd won’t attend meetings with Mrs Wilson because he wants an apology after she reportedly swore at him in Whatsapp messages, while Mrs Wilson won’t apologise and complains about him sharing private messages.

“Miss, she said a bad word!” “Sir, he showed everyone a note I wrote him!”

For goodness’ sake, grow up, the pair of you.

We’re in the middle of a pandemic, parents have no idea if it is safe to send their children to school with scores of new COVID-19 cases daily, staff are worried about their health and their ability to deliver quality education remotely – and these two won’t talk to one another properly?

We would be amazed if Mr Lloyd has gone through his career including a spell in the media without encountering some industrial language – and as for Mrs Wilson, she might find that sometimes you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

We don’t want communications to be quite as bristling as in the days of the voice notes featuring former PLP MP Leslie Miller – who would probably sit back and laugh at such a big thing being made out of such comparatively modest language. But nor do we want everyone to be blushing wallflowers who don’t say what needs to be said to get things done.

There are major issues in our schooling system and in our country. Let’s get them solved – and let’s not let some petty bickering get in the way of solutions that benefit students’ education and, more importantly, saves people’s lives.

Get on with it, and try working together for a change rather than against one another.

Overcome scepticism

We wrote this week about the “now or never” moment for Freeport thanks to a push by a committee to deliver the changes needed to revitalise the economy.

It is an important subject – and as such we welcome voices such as Terence Gape’s, who today points out some of the hurdles that must be crossed in getting from where we are to where we want to be.

One of those, he points out, is the need for investment beyond the Hayward and St George families, with Mr Gape citing numerous broken promises in the past that lead him to remaining sceptical.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s an exercise in futility,” he says. “Don’t get me wrong; they’re wonderful ideas by REEF, but with the families you’ll get nowhere and Hutchison will block you everywhere you turn.”

He added: “The problem is the families have been in charge and failed Freeport since 2004, and nothing has changed.”

That of course is the difficulty with trying to turn around a community – the people in the community are the same ones who have been involved previously. If the community has stalled, how do you build faith in those same people that they can step up to the plate this time?

What is important is commitment – showing people you really mean it this time.

Perhaps that’s financial, putting some money into the game. Perhaps that’s organisational.

Perhaps it’s using the muscle you have to do as Mr Gape suggests, getting another investor involved. It’s certainly going to take work on the part of all those involved – and all sides need to show a willingness to put in that work.

There is a great starting point in the “wonderful ideas” that sides can rally around. Past stumbles should not be an indicator of future failure – but they do mean there may be a need to show how determined you are to follow through this time. Can Freeport do that collectively? For everyone’s sake, we hope so.


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