School Opening Delays ‘A Disgrace But Not A Surprise’

BUT president Belinda Wilson.

BUT president Belinda Wilson.


Tribune Staff Reporter


BAHAMAS Union of Teachers president Belinda Wilson said it is a “disgrace” but not surprising that three schools will likely not be ready to open in January for hybrid learning with face-to-face instruction.

“As the union shop stewards, executive officers and from my personal observations and inspection of schools, it is obvious that the completion of the construction and the school repairs will not be completed in time for schools reopening in January 2022,” Mrs Wilson said.

“So, the Bahamas Union of Teachers awaits the alternative sites for the schools so that education instruction may resume face-to-face and hybrid models as pronounced by the Minister of Education Glenys Hanna Martin.”

Mrs Hanna Martin revealed on Wednesday that Sybil Strachan Primary, C W Sawyer Primary and Ridgeland Primary will likely not be ready when school resumes next month. She said education officials are working along with the Ministry of Works to identify alternative locations for students of those schools to participate when schools open next year.

Mrs Wilson called for a more proactive approach for dealing with school repairs.

“It is my hope that going forward the Ministry of Education will improve on having school repairs completed in a timely manner on an annual basis. The schools not being ready at this time is nothing short of a disgrace. My recommendation, as was given many years ago and consistently given, is that the Ministry of Education needs a maintenance section to carry out scopes of work in schools throughout the year.

“The work should be decentralised and the unit populated with skilled workers and experts to ensure that school repairs are not only done in the summer months, but throughout the year. “This is another set back for teachers and students who have been disenfranchised over the past 20 months. Again, BUT awaits the information for the alternative sites because we must get the students back in the classrooms throughout the country.”

Recently, the ministry announced the usual end of term examinations will not be held this year and the National Report Card Day, originally scheduled for December 16 has been postponed.

Mrs Wilson said BUT is in agreement with the cancellation of school-based end of term exams for 2021 and the assessment of students when they return face-to-face in January 2022. Despite this, there is still some concern.

“We are very concerned that at this late stage the Department of Education has not presented a comprehensive plan for the academic instruction of students when school reopens throughout the country. Yes, we held meetings with education personnel, but (information) was given in a very ad hoc fashion.

“Based on the Ministry of Education’s number, 30 percent of students, which equates to more than 14,000 students, have not had any educational instruction or formal learning since March 2020 - some 20 months ago. This is very serious, so we are awaiting the plan to correct this critical problem which should ensure that these students (get) the much-needed tutoring and extra classes necessary.”


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