The Union of Professional Educators – Voice of the Workers was forwarded a circular today dated the 11th of December 2020, where the Director General (Strategy and Support) for the Ministry of Education is making a call for the engagement of retired education grades to perform teaching duties in the Ministry of Education.
This call can only mean one thing, and that is that our teachers are lacking in numbers. Our human resources in the field have currently so significantly been reduced, that it is being considered necessary to call on those who, after years of service, had left the sector by virtue of their age.
The UPE would not like to linger on any futile recollection about how back in September it had mentioned, time and time again, that during a pandemic, placing our educators on the front lines would have led to an inevitable decimation of the available workforce as a result of contagion or mandatory quarantine. Back then, this objection had fallen onto deaf ears and now it seems that it is way too late to cry over spilt milk.
At this point, one can only hope that the pig-headed decision to ignore the union’s plea to protect our highly-trained workforce, with more stringent and drastic measures, will not result in a situation detrimental to our students nationwide. It has already impacted our educators badly enough from what can be deduced, but will these retired grades be able to deliver the high-tech education which the ministry has been requiring since the start of the pandemic? Will these grades be expected to undergo full rapid instruction on how to manage platforms, applications and devices which have become the norm for our educators since March? Will there be a sufficiently strong response from these veterans of education to ensure that classrooms are adequately manned? Will they be able to be up and ready to adapt to the drastic changes in the curriculum which were made during the pandemic?
The ministry is currently so much at the end of its tether that it is resorting to educators who, for all intents and purposes, should be allowed to enjoy their retirement in safety, and not be exposed to that same hazardous situation which has affected others who are by far less vulnerable than they are. It is preposterous to think how, when our own Superintendent of Public Health has been advising that we should be protecting our elderly and taking all necessary precautions when visiting them as family members, the Ministry of Education has no qualms at expecting them to sit on the front lines with full classes of children coming from a multitude of “bubbles”.
There seems to be a naive attitude of “Let’s hope for the best, and if we fail at least we will have tried!” going on here which defies logic. There seems to be no rhyme or reason in continuing to behave as if all is well, especially in the wake of a promise of an imminent third wave.