Thursday 24 September, 2020

Talks with education stakeholders will continue, parents to have a say

MInister Santia Bradshaw during talks with teachers last week

MInister Santia Bradshaw during talks with teachers last week

Minister Santia Bradshaw intends to keep engaging stakeholders in Education as the reopening of school looms.

During an address to the nation on Saturday September 5, she emphasised the need for constant dialogue with all parties as her ministry sought to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“As we become accustomed to what is quickly becoming ‘the new norm’ it has meant that we have had to widen the engagement with our stakeholders and in the Ministry of Education this has meant broadening our discussions with the union representatives to also include our international organizations, our teachers, our parents and also our PTAs and our students in our discussions,” the Education Minister stated.

Minister Bradshaw concluded a series of meetings recently which saw her hosting discussions with teachers on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday last week.

“They took time to engage with myself, ministry officials, Minister Cynthia Forde and Minister Dwight Sutherland about the reopening of school and the protocols which needed to be put in place to ensure a safe reopening of our school environment,” she said while thanking those who attended and participated in those meetings.

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She also highlighted the tireless work of principals as they devised the best approaches for their staff and students as with school resuming on September 21. Throughout the course of the next few weeks and during planning week she stated several webinars will be held to assist teachers with their preparation for online instruction.

In addition to dialogue with the teaching fraternity, the Minister also engaged with those responsible for transportation as they sought to iron out the logistics for the upcoming term.

She said: “Just this morning we were able to conclude some discussions with the Ministry of Transport, Works and Maintenance to look at public transportation and the additional health and safety protocols that will have to be put in place along with revisions to the scheduling of our buses.”

She indicated that schools would need to provide information about timetabling to the Ministry which would then funnel that information to the Transport Board to allow that entity to schedule bus services accordingly. She stated that rural schools with long standing transportation challenges will be given priority and hinted at having a dedicated school bus service in the future.

Dialogue will continue, according to Bradshaw, and parents will also have a say in the ongoing discussion.

“In the coming weeks it is my intention to engage with the National Parent-Teachers’ Association as well as executive members of the various PTAs to give parents an opportunity to also contribute to the discussion,” the Minister said.

While announcing that going forward every school must have an active PTA, she took the opportunity to remind parents that they too had a responsibility to become actively involved in the PTAs. She called on parents to work with school administrators to provide timely information which would influence other decisions which needed to be made.

In the capacity of both Minister of Education and Constituency Representative, Bradshaw spoke of a meeting with staff of the Wilkie Cumberbatch School and disclosed that it enlightened her even further about the need for engaging in dialogue with all stakeholders across the spectrum and even beyond the traditional pool of stakeholders.

She promised that in the coming weeks communication with all stakeholders will continue and called on the cooperation of all parties involved as she touted that “rigidity now must become flexibility and accommodation more than anything in this time”.

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