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Honour your commitment – Reinstate teachers now!

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29.MAR.11

Editor: MP Clayton Burgin’s ludicrous opposition to the reinstatement of three unsuccessful NDP candidates into the teaching profession shows a high level of political immaturity. It also underscores the extent of political polarisation in this blessed state within recent years.{{more}} For the government to seek refuge in the constitution and not honour its commitments with the SVGTU is vintage political opportunism. Isn’t it explicitly stated in the Collective Agreement that such persons should be reinstated within six months, at the beginning of a school term? So, why should Mr Burgin, a former teacher and activist for change in the teaching service, postulate such folly?

Power really is a hypnotic force that corrupts minds and leaves one devoid of rational reasoning and moral decency. This is evident in Mr Burgin’s claims that if Mr Elvis Daniel, Kenroy Johnson and Addison Thomas had won their seats, they won’t have been seeking reinstatements! Duh! Isn’t this ludicrously obvious? Why treat honourable men who have served the teaching profession with distinction as if they are criminals or illegal immigrants? Mr Burgin, these devoted educators have been imparting knowledge and moulding minds for a combined 96 years! So, to hold on to the divisive Joshua-type politics of half a century ago, at the expense of enriching our education product, can never be in St. Vincent’s best interest.

I wish to bring a human element to the debate, having come under the direct tutelage and or having had the privilege of being mentored by these gentlemen during my fledging teaching career. Yes, these colleagues have impacted positively on my teaching, especially in the area of lesson delivery, with emphasis on concept clarity and students’ response. I am among the majority when I state that Elvis Daniel is undisputedly the best Maths teacher in SVG. He uses his wit and intellect to full effect and is unparalleled in concept clarity to students across a demographic classroom. This claim can stand up to scrutiny in any teaching evaluation instrument, be it lesson preparation, delivery or learning outcomes. Mr Daniel was instrumental in guiding me away from the chalk/talk (monotonous) approach and introducing me to more innovative and student-centred teaching techniques.

What more can I say about Kenroy Johnson, except that he is the consummate professional? I looked up to and emulated this role model during my formative teaching years (starting as a teenager) at the North Union Secondary School. His expertise in Language Arts and Science elevated him to ‘teacher par excellence’ status. Mr Johnson is an advocate of the holistic development of the child and, as such, brought soul to the NUSS sports, music and creative arts programmes. His strength in diplomacy enabled him to quell contentious staff, curriculum and student crises through amicable means. No surprise then, when he was elevated to principal before his failed political attempt.

In an era when teachers have become increasingly self-centred and territorial, Mr Addison “Bash” Thomas’ contribution to teacher professionalism comes to the fore. His illustrious career as a successful Grade 6 teacher at the Lowmans Windward Anglican School is legendary. His 20-year (Grade 6) partnership with Lyndon “Raffie” Johnson helped develop a positive and competitive school culture. This is embellished in the school’s recording over 50% Common Entrance passes in 13 of their 20 years partnership. I owe it to Mr Thomas for helping me to re-capture my creative juices both as a motivator and in the field of writing. His priceless advice and commitment to staff development underscores the need for his reinstatement to the Park Hill Government School. This is expedient, especially since the PHGS presently operates on a skeletal staff and the imminent retirement of two of its stalwarts is imminent.

The much-touted education reform programme, commonly termed “The Education Revolution”, cries out for the expertise of these erstwhile veterans. No doubt, their services can become exigent to the success of the government’s one laptop per child policy. This policy has necessitated teacher training in information technology. It is pertinent to note therefore, that these three “knowledge dispensers” have already undergone advanced training in the field of Information Technology. What’s more, they are able-bodied and mentally-sound, with a combined 15 years in reserves to offer the teaching fraternity, if so desired!

Minister Burgin, we cannot afford to bury these rich teaching resources under the altar of political tribalism. So Mr PM, do the honourable and patriotic thing-Reinstate them now!!!

Collin CA$H Haywood

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