Proud record, says Senator Husbands

A member of the Freundel Stuart Administration is defending the Government’s record in education in general and its treatment of teachers.

Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Senator Harcourt Husbands, laid out his case yesterday as he delivered the Astor B. Watts Lunchtime Lecture.

Husbands, addressing those gathered in the Errol Barrow Gallery at the Democratic Labour Party’s headquarters, spoke to work done in the area of early childhood education, the training of teachers, the refurbishment of the Erdiston Teachers’ Training College and the establishment of the Teaching Service Commission, as among their significant achievement. His comments came as he contended that in fact, the current Administration’s record of empowering the teaching profession is unmatched.

“This Teaching Service Commission has been a demand of the teachers of this country for 40 years. When I was in the teachers’ union that was a demand, when Roland Jones was in the teachers’ union that was a demand; going back further, when John Cumberbatch was in the teachers’ union that was a demand [and] when Patrick Frost was in the teachers’ union that was a demand… That demand has been fulfilled now by this Democratic Labour Party Government under Freundel Stuart. It was the Democratic Labour Party that first put it on the agenda as part of our constitutional amendments, but it was never brought into force. We, under Freundel Stuart, brought it into force here a month ago,” he stated.

This Commission, Husbands explained, will make it easier to deal with all issues concerning the terms and conditions of the service of teachers in this country. He made the point as he noted that under the DLP Administration, within the last two years to be exact, as many as 700 teachers have been appointed.

“It is unheard of not only in Barbados, but anywhere in the Caribbean and remember I speak as a person who has served as President of the Caribbean Union of Teachers. So I speak with a certain knowledge and experience,” he stated.

Husbands added that steps have also been taken to expand and enhance the training that is available to teachers. Noting that they are pushing the idea of teachers being trained before they enter the classroom, the Parliamentary Secretary said that the first cohort – a total of 250 teachers – is in the process of completing their Bachelor’s in Education at Erdiston.

“We have also diversified, modernised Erdiston Teachers’ College. Next week Monday, there is going to be a rededication ceremony at Erdiston. We have refurbished under the most difficult economic circumstances, we have refurbished Erdiston, turned all of the old dorms into new lecture theatres with modern equipment [and] expanded and updated the library,” he stated.

Meanwhile, in respect of early childhood education, he said that 65 teachers have been trained to the master’s or post-graduate certificate levels in Early Childhood Education, and these teachers he said are working in the new nursery schools that have been built. Going forward, Senator Husbands said that with three nursery schools already built and in operation and four more to come, Government will be well poised to meet the needs of parents wishing to enrol their children in nursery school. (JRT)

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