Social Commentary: The present impasse between the St Kitts and Nevis Teachers Unions and the Federal Department of Education over the unilateral decision by the Department officials to alter the already published Easter vacation break without consultation with the Teachers through their Unions is putting Union President Bishop Collins once again into the national spotlight as a champion of the Teachers.
One would recall the strong leadership he provided as he rallied the teachers, parents/guardians and students against the credible and honest positions of the Departments of Education and Health on the Basseterre High School matter.
Clearly, it mattered little to him then whether he was labelled as a tool of the Unity Opposition. Many would recall, the stance aided Team Unity as it hypocritically misled and deceived citizens its quest for political office.
Collins’ strongest point then as it continues to be now in this impasse is that there was little or no consultation between the department’s officials with the Union.
Of course the teachers were given a schedule for the duration of each term and as is expected. However, teachers planned vacation leisure time would have to be altered somewhat.
And all they were asking for in the meeting with Minister Hon. Richards is that they should have been consulted and since they were not and had already made their plans on the original vacation period the, the Minister and officials should show compassion and understanding and revert to the original schedule.
The straw that broke the camel’s back proverbially for Collins and his union of teachers was when they were blatantly told that the Department didn’t have to consult with them or anyone. In fact they were merely doing them a favour to discuss the matter as the decision was already taken.
To this end, President Collins and his Teachers Union will have none of this insulting talk from Minister Richards, his Permanent Secretary Willett and Chief Education Officer, Dr. Esdaille. They recall very well that not too long ago the Minister took off and went on his vacation to enjoy carnival in Trinidad and Tobago without Prime Minister Harris and his colleagues even being consulted before his departure.
Collins is adamant that consultation is a key problem.
“The lack of consultation is clearly seen in this particular matter and the premature and unfortunate suspension and closure of the laptop and REACH programmes. Such suspension without consultation is very unfortunate. These programmes were important to the development of our students and provided well needed support for their education. The SKTU and the NTU stand strong against the unilateral action of the Ministry of Education and despite the Ministry’s clearly defined position on consultation with the Unions, the SKTU will continue to “Agitate, Educate, and Liberate”. The SKTU and the NTU calls on the Ministry of Education to kindly revert to the former dates issued for our school terms and to embrace a more consultative path in education.”