The Teaching Profession

Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Think Tank/Watchdog Group

Ronald Jones, Minister of Education

For some time, the society as a whole has been vehement in blaming our teachers for what many consider as deteriorating educational standards. Mahogany Coconut is of the view that such blame is unfounded and unfair. When we examine our educational system, we conclude that the vast majority of our teachers are competent and extremely professional. However, we do not subscribe to the view that they are poorly paid. Taking into consideration our resources, their salaries are comparable if not more attractive than those in many developing countries. We also suggest that our school plant, at all levels, is vastly superior to what obtains in many of our neighboring island states.

Since the mid 70’s, the collective DLP/BLP government, has systematically succeeded in damaging the image of our teachers and the general public has supported the DLP/BLP. As far back as the late 60’s and early 70’s, there have been clashes with prominent educators and our political leaders. The late and distinguished Dame Elsie Payne and Prime Minister Errol Barrow; the Glasgow affair at the Lodge School are two that stand out. Mr. Clyde Griffith, former BLP senator, once said that all teachers do is frequent rum shops. Former minister of Education Sir Louis Tull (BLP) lied on teachers by suggesting that they did not want to supervise the children during lunch. According to him, this lack of supervision meant that young children were eating lunch, after going to the “toilets”, without washing their hands thereby running the risk of spreading disease. This lie was told simply because teachers wanted their full lunch hour, after supervising the children.Mr.Tull was brilliant enough to take a simple trade union request(BUT) and turn it into a health issue.

We present these episodes to show that the BLP/DLP has always treated the teaching profession with little respect. Errol Barrow himself once told the leadership of the Secondary teachers union that he knew how to “deal with them” because he was a world war two bomber pilot .And according to him was skilled at dealing with the “enemy.”

Politics has also been used to promote teachers within schools and senior posts within the Ministry of Education. Some of the recent appointments to the posts education officers, have been deemed purely political by those within the profession. It was also done when Mia Mottley took over the Ministry of education and swiftly appointed teachers connected to her party to high ranking positions.

Teachers themselves have played the political card with great success. Some of our current parliamentarians were active unionists: Cynthia Forde (BLP); Rawle Eastmond, (BLP); Ronald Jones, (DLP) are examples. They know the difficult struggles and challenges of the profession. There are many highly professional teachers, who have refused to become heads and educational officers because of the political corruption that has plagued the profession. Many have opted for early retirement and in extreme cases left the profession. The Alexandra school fiasco is nothing more than a political sore bursting. Is it true that Broomes had applied for the post of Chief Education officer? Is it true that Matthew Farley, a highly respected principal had his eyes on the St. John constituency? Is it true that Farley also applied for the post of Chief Education Officer? The Ministry of Education is a glaring casualty of party and political opportunism. Distinguished Nationalist and Deputy Leader of the Peoples Empowerment Party (PEP), Comrade Robert “Bobby” Clarke, said at the recent Nation Newspaper sponsored town hall meeting: “Changing” BLP/DLP and vice versa really makes no difference!”

The Mahogany Coconut Group submits that it is nothing short of a modern day miracle, that the Ministry of Education and the competent public servants who run it have survived. The society is fortunate, that the majority of those with whom we entrust our children, are hardworking teachers dedicated to the profession. We salute them for escaping the contamination and poison that both the Barbados Labour Party and the Democratic Labour Party have unleashed in the Ministry of Education.

We firmly believe that progressive measures needed to reform our educational system are daily sabotaged by intellectual, professional and political yardfowlism, that are the trademarks of both the Democratic Labour Party and the Barbados Labour Party. The Ministry of Education and many of our truly professional teachers have been major victims.

0 responses to “The Teaching Profession

  1. Gabriel Tackle

    Only a stupid person would boast of Barbados having the finest education system and the best teachers.Hogwash ! Thousands of them do not know how to speak standard English,their native tongue.Similarly,their pronunciation is absolutely rotten.One former teacher,branded an errant school teacher,on TV pronounced the word SECTOR…SEK’TAWRR.Who tell him say that.A current principal who likes to hear himself and who gave the Education Ministry a lot of trouble in the 80’s and was kicked upstairs,took the cue from the errant school teacher and regales the world with GOVER’NAWR, ADMINISTRA’TAWR, SEK’TAWR,FACILITA’TAWR,FAC’TAWR etc.So what’s wrong with GUV’NUH, UDMINISTRA’TUH, SEK’TUH,FACILITA’TUH,FAK’TUH.I am neither a teacher nor a radio/tv announcer,but I am so embarrassed by these two groups,I think we are wasting taxpayers’ funding on education.


  2. I just wrote how I really felt but it was too toxic for this blog so I erased it.

    I will accept that you all have better solutions to getting the “wufless parent (David’s words)” to be more responsible.


  3. @Hants

    We don’t have parental delinquency laws here.


  4. The law says that children between the age of 5 an 16 must be educated. The government of Barbados has signed treaties in which it agrees that Barbados will comply with providing education to all its children between 5 and 16.

    These children are being unlawfully deprived of much needed teaching and much needed opportunities to learn

    I agree with Hants that it is absurd, absurd, absurd to deprive children of good quality teaching for an infraction that can be corrected in 15 minutes.

    When I went to school, in the good old days of English headmistresses, a child whose uniform was too short would be given a needle and thread and asked to correct the infraction during the morning break, this discipline (Note discipline not punishment) had good results, people of my generation can still take down and replace a hem by hand with a simple needle and thread. in 15 minutes or less. There is no need for a principal to be involved in such minor matters. The needlework teacher and or the guidance counsellor should be able to handle this non-issue. A single large spool of thread and $10 worth of ordinary sewing needles are al that is required to handle this non-problem

    The fact that Matthew Farley has spend years trying to solve this non-problem, and still the non-problem exists leads me be believe that he is an ineffective administrator

    That said both parents and children ought to comply with sensible school rules, and work to change silly rules; and parents ought to provide sensible leadership for their children.

    I am not seeing any good sense displayed at the Garrison School, as no good sense was displayed at Alexandra.

    Another question, since the mean on this blog will beat me up anyhow, but I can take my lashes:

    How come our female school principals are managing their schools without front page media (MIS) attention?

    Media attention is the oxygen that keeps attention seekers like Jeff Broomes and Matthew Farley alive.

    Maybe the media should withdraw the oxygen, and let those men wither into their previous obscurity.


  5. “Mean” above is a Freudian slip. I of course meant men, but maybe it is the same thing.


  6. Observing(...)

    The parents don’t come when summoned. That’s part of the problem.


  7. Observing(...)

    @simple simon
    Before I judge or comment, pray tell us how these 15 minutes would go in your world……I’ll remain open minded


  8. Dear Observing:

    Ask me a question in simple English, or simple Bajan and I’ll answer it.


  9. Observing(...)

    How would you deal with 2mm hems? Or the needlework teacher who’s duty this does not fall under and eveen if she complies the same loss of teaching time and space occurs? Or the child who willingly and purposely goes through this process every morning and encourages others to do the same? Or the same teachinf/learning time lost because of the shear numbers?

    Farley’s action is extreme (maybe), but condemn the extremity and not the act itself…preferably buttressed by some semblance of fact and understanding of the specific culture and circumstance at the Garison. As for female principals…are you sure they are managing so much better than their male counterparts? Not being in the public eye does not a successful school make.

    If we’re going to flog this issue, let’s flog it with the rod of rules and obedience, roles and responsibility, parents and parenting, administration and ministerial support.

    We cuss Freundel and Laurie King for not doing anything…yet we cuss Farley for doing something to hold his ship together….go figure.

    Just observing


  10. @ Simple Simon
    What men will beat you up what!?! …men ain’t got nothing better to beat at this time of night…? The men will just ignore your provocations…
    How can other principals avoid such tactics? Either they have parents who care, or they themselves don’t…. And discipline is dying at their school.

    …you stick to the fishing and leave the school management to Bushie, Broomes and Farley. :)
    Farley is loud, publicity focused and pushy….but in this instance, he is right to take drastic action if he wants to retain discipline at his school in future,


  11. old onion bags

    We cuss Freundel and Laurie King for not doing anything…yet we cuss Farley for doing something to hold his ship together….go figure.
    Poor closing synopsis… lost the argument to simple by her clever gender deception.Point remains Farley is too harsh with his punishment. Is this to say a Heady now can do anything?Not good… they having all these endless powers to dispense discipline as see fit and legally. Too much power man !


  12. @Observer “2mm hems” A child of 12 or 13 should be able to manage this with a parent’s or teachers; help. The parent will buy a piece of similar coloured fabric, cut it on the bias, and attach it to the 2mm hem. Then put up a new hem. It take about 10 minutes with a sewing machine, and about half an hour if doing by hand. It takes less time that writing a letter, or coming to a school. Any parent or needlework teacher who does not know how to do this is not worth his/her salt. It is not difficult to do.

    If we have lost these basic skills then we are truly lost.


  13. millertheanunnaki

    @ Simple Simon | October 18, 2012 at 9:18 PM |

    The miller is on your side this time Simon.

    Matthew F is an attention seeker who believes he holds the keys to the nation’s moral standards that are locked away in some golden halcyon cabinet of 1950’s and 60’s Barbados when he was growing up stupid under a banner that read “Education shall set us free” and was the rallying cry of every poor black Bajan son and daughter of this fair land. Free of the social injustices and economic deprivation and exploitation of apartheid Barbados of earlier times. And he, like most of us of similar vintage, was right to believe that education of that time was a passport to success both social and economic.

    Alas, how things have change! Children today don’t know much of the social and economic difficulties of those times and view going to school in a different light.

    They just don’t see education in the same way earlier generations did and to some extent still do. Most children in Barbados today see school at the Secondary level as a waste of time and place more importance to having material things and the latest phone and gear bought by their parents than on anything to be read from a book.

    Forcing children to adhere to a Victorian age uniform might be a form of good discipline to many but what happens when they leave school and travel on our roads. What do they see right before their very eyes being practised by adults like ourselves or watch or hear politicians and other public officials speak and behave?

    Mr. Farley would make the ideal Commissioner of Police for our trying times in this country.
    Good luck, Sir!


  14. Observing(...)

    Let’s add the time for buying the material (if the parent obliges) and sending it to school. We’ve now moved passed half hour and gone into to possible days. And that’s one uniform for one child.

    I agree, we’ve lost MANY basics in this country, hence the position we’re in. Let’s not judge too harshly those who try to reclaim some of those basics. Especially without the requisite facts and knowledge of what obtained leading up to this point.

    If you show me how I’ve lost the argument that I wasn’t in I’ll buy ya a virgin pina colada with a pretty red and yellow umbrella on the top :)

    By the way, is farley’s harshness based on the punishment, the numbers, or the warnings etc leading up to the eventual suspension??


  15. Note that I was NOT suggesting that the teacher do it. But rather that the child is given the tools and instructed how to do it. each child does his or her own, in a group setting, the job done before morning break is finished.

    The teacher SHOULD NOT do it. And neither should the parent.

    All children 12 or older ought to be able to manage such a simple tasks as hemming a garment, cooking a meal, cleaning a room, washing their own dirty clothes.

    I may need to show up at the Garrison school as a volunteer how-to parent.

    Bajans have become foolish enough if we must turn every molehill into a mountain.

    It was only 2 generations ago that Bajan girls and boys went to the needlework and tailoring trades and were “sending out brides” and grooms by age 20.

    Now if a Chinese does not make our garments we would walk ’bout naked.


  16. Observing(...)

    @miller and simon
    Reading you loud and clear. The problem is way far and beyond Farley and the Garrison or this incident. On that we have full agreement. Not sure if Commissioner Farley is the solution though. Lol.

    Simon, those days you refer too are loooong gone. As are many positive and productive norms and traditions. Sad but true.


  17. There was a time in the sixties and seventies when girl’s uniforms were so short you had to avert your eyes when they stepped in the bus or even stepped up on the side walk. I can still find pictures of girls in those shockingly short uniforms. Boys went to schools with huge Afros, bell bottom pants, etc.

    Adults of this generation are too hypocritical and like to pretend that previous generations were angelic.

    To be measuring whether a uniform is 1½ inches below the knee instead of 2 inches is definitely going way overboard; letters and warnings notwithstanding.


  18. old onion bags

    You headmasters are all alike….protect each other….we love our power.
    With power comes responsibility. That you all seem not to understand.
    Observer……how many times must I say the punishment was too harsh, or your ears just pricked to tune into what suits you….you keep ur yellow umbrella..


  19. Observing(...)

    It was a red and yellow umbrella!

    Btw, what punishment would you reccomend? And by the way, are you fully apprised of the circumstances surrounding the crime?


  20. We say our children need discipline which if true implies many of our principals and teachers are not effectively doing a job.

    Logically it means that Farley would be in the minority of principals doing the job.

    In is interesting that most of the BLpites are against Farley’s action and DLPites for.

    Could it be because is wears DLP stripes?

    We seem to distil any and all issues through partisan lens.


  21. What “paristian” it is more like principle and not letting the inmates steer the shiop in several direction farley has demonstrated good leadership in this area and for that he shiould be commended.


  22. You know what I love to see Mathew Farley Chairman of the ZR transport utility (what ever the name)…Let us see how Mr.Farley will deal with them. For how long now we had transport issues with them. Time to put powerhouse Farley where he can show grownups spunk instead of kiddyrama diddle dung.What you say Mathew ? In for a penny, in for a crown.


  23. You know what i would love to see, Mathew Farley Chairman of the regulatory body ZR Transport Utility Board ( what ever the name).. Let us see how Mr. Farley will deal with them. For how long now we had transport issue and problems. Time to put powerhouse Farley where he can show his spunk dealing with grownups, instead of kiddyrama diddle dung. What you say Mathew? In for a penny, in for a crown.


  24. To be measuring whether a uniform is 1½ inches below the knee instead of 2 inches is definitely going way overboard; letters and warnings notwithstanding.
    Nothing better to do….its not about being a disciplinarian but petty. Go home for 5 days and lower your helm..


  25. All those who oppose schools trying to teach children that uniforms must be worn as a uniform and not as a stylist garment.

    Must go further and tell them when they get a job in certain private companies in Barbados to disrespect the dress code of the organization and see if they will retain their jobs.

    If you get a job in any of the banks you cannot wear shoes with your toes showing
    If you have a tattoo in must not be seen.
    Your cleavage must not be seen.
    Call the managers old fashion.

    Onions I pity this country under the BLP. Your moral compass seems broken.


  26. millertheanunnaki

    @ Clone | October 19, 2012 at 4:14 PM |
    “Onions I pity this country under the BLP. Your moral compass seems broken.”

    If you can get the DLP administration to sort out the following before the elections I will be the first to advise people to reelect the DLP as a party of action and not just sleeping on the job:

    Get the ZR vehicles and other PSV’s to obey the law and bring some discipline to our roads.
    Get those offending vehicles to stop polluting the air with the black smoke emitted full of toxins and cancer causing chemicals from the inferior fuels imported from Trinidad.

    Get the many unlicensed and uninsured vehicles of the road.

    Remove those old derelict vehicles dilapidated buildings and overgrown lots that are now part and parcel of our neigbourhoods and landscape especially in the St. Michael area breeding mosquitoes and rats and other vermin.

    A general clean up of Bim will be most welcomed especially in our City and its adjacent growing shanty town.

    Get those crooked business owners who collected millions in VAT from consumers to pay it over to the VAT office and into the Treasury to help reduce the fiscal deficit and to help pay our public sector workers on time and to purchase supplies and equipment for them to work with.

    The QEH will certainly do with a good few millions to pay its bills especially those in significant arrears and running into the millions.

    Clone, I guarantee you that if you guys can achieve such you will have my vote along with those thousand undecided voters at this stage. Go for it, Clone!


  27. miller all them suggestions to clone. maybe you can forwarded them to OSA starting.with the word “WHY”


  28. Anyone with EVIDENCE to show the impact skirt length has on the educational and professional success of girls at the Garrison or any other secondary school? Isn’t Farley’s perception of what is decent arbitrary? What if Principal Barley thinks the showing of girls’ calves are unsuitable for school? We are trapped in a time warp!!


  29. millertheanunnaki

    @ ac | October 19, 2012 at 6:14 PM |
    “miller all them suggestions to clone. maybe you can forwarded them to OSA starting with the word “WHY”..”

    That is why the electorate fired the other lot in January 2008.
    Or haven’t you noticed for the last 58 months? Where were you? Asleep like Fruendel?
    Seems we made a big mistake that can be corrected in a few weeks. What a nightmare we have been having for 3 years now!


  30. @Enuff

    Do you understand there is a dress code in position at the school which the headmaster has a duty to enforce? If as a country we want to do away with uniforms that is a different argument. Bear in mind companies have dress codes. Are we not training our children to be comfortable with the disciplines life brings?


  31. @ David
    Funny coming from someone who so often questions the effectiveness/results of laws, policies and procedures. Remember that ‘code’ that was in place for appointing the Chief Justice? If (note I said IF) the premise of Farley’s skirt length policy is flawed you are saying continue with it because it is the ‘code’?


  32. @enuff

    You missed the point. Is Farley operating within the rules or not? If he isn’t or his bosses believe the rule is irrelevant it can be changed. You can’t blame Farley if he is operating within the rules.


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