Union head says yes, education minister says no
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Having sat out of classes for four days last week after an alleged altercation between two students and a male teacher, teachers at the C.V. Bethel Senior High School are still refusing to teach.
That announcement came Tuesday from Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd, despite The Bahamas Union of Teachers president Belinda Wilson stating otherwise.
Last week, a male teacher was allegedly attacked by two students at the senior high school, which resulted in the teacher having to receive medical attention.
On Monday, Wilson told Eyewitness News Online that following an assembly, where rules and regulations were enforced to the students, teachers had returned to work.
However, Lloyd told media outside of Cabinet on Tuesday that despite Wilson’s claim, he had been advised by a reliable source that teachers were still sitting out.
“At this moment, I am advised that the teachers have not been going to class, but of course I am following up very closely on that, and if that is so, and I certainly have no reason to doubt the sources of my information, then the teachers need to be in school…,” Lloyd said.
“This action by them is illegal. It is contrary to the industrial agreement and they need to be in the class teaching our students who have a right to education and who have a right to the professional guidance that teachers provide.”
Yesterday, Wilson said Lloyd should not be so quick to trust second-hand information.
“If the matter is so important, take a moment and go to the school to speak with the staff to get a full understanding of what is happening, because obviously, these officials are not giving him the right information,” the BUT president said.
“We are sick and tired of teachers always getting the bad end of the stick.”
The BUT president said that to her knowledge, teachers were supposed to meet with the principal and a union representative on Tuesday morning to express safety concerns stemming from last week’s incident.
“What it’s [the meeting] really dealing with is health and safety and discipline where teachers would have rostered themselves to be placed in strategic positions on campus to monitor student movement…look at uniform infractions and observe students who may be trying to leave early and come in late. These are the simple things we are asking for,” Wilson said.
Since last week’s incident, teachers claim they are in fear of their lives, but yesterday Lloyd said they have no reason to be fearful.
“I am to understand that there is nobody’s life at C.V. Bethel or anyone else on our campuses around this country, of 172 schools, whose lives are in jeopardy or whose safety and welfare is threatened,” Lloyd said.
Also responding to the union’s claim that they are expected to file a trade dispute following last week’s reported altercation, Lloyd said while the union has the right to take whatever action that it wants, his concern is the education and safety of children and teachers.
Meanwhile, police are conducting an investigation into the incident and as soon as the report is made available, a formal decision will be made in regards to parties involved in last week’s incident.
“When I have that report in my hand, we will take whatever steps are necessary,” Lloyd said.