The National Primary Schools’ Principals Association (NAPSPA) is recommending that the Ministry of Education (MOE) softens its tone and instead, consult with all major stakeholders in education, as far as possible.

It also wants the ministry to stop what it says is the threatening of principals and teachers.

In an official statement, NAPSPA’s president, Lance Mottley, explained that the Association has no difficulty in assisting the education ministry in continuing to provide for the needs of the nation’s students, “once it is within reason”.

Mottley stated that the Association takes issue with “the harsh and condescending tones that the Ministry seems to prefer to use to engage us”.

“Every action has a reaction, and such tones by the MOE and its agents do not sit well with our teaching professionals,” Lance Mottley said.  “Further, the instructions from the Ministry generally tend to lack context of purpose: Principals and teachers would react more positively if the purpose of these ‘requests’ are stated upfront.”

He added: “It appears that it is only when there is resistance, that the MOE sees it fit to provide context, but of course, not without threats. We condemn this attitude strongly and reject it outright.”

According to the NAPSPA president, there might be the thinking among some high-ranking officials that principals and teachers are at the lower end of the hierarchy of the MOE.

“As such, the assumption is we do not need to be consulted. Frankly, that kind of thinking is nothing short of arrogant, and only serves to further the divide of ‘them’ and ‘us’,” he argues. “In this era of engagement, there is need for genuine consultation and collaboration, and openness of purpose. Perhaps, if this kind of attitude was adopted by the MOE since the closure of schools due to the pandemic, then there may not have been need for such a directive by TTUTA. It should be noted that although many teachers would have attempted to reach out to students, they were faced with challenges as many students do not have access to internet,” Mottley said, “nor the wherewithal to access teaching learning materials online.”

The NAPSPA president stated that like everyone in Trinidad and Tobago, principals and teachers are aware that these are not normal times facing the country and accept that the required response from everyone to this pandemic, is adjustment to the way business is done.

“It is definitely not business as usual,” NAPSPA points out. “In fact, many of our principals and teachers would have put things in place to engage students remotely, as much as was possible, even before the Ministry of Education got involved.”

NAPSPA added that this noble act speaks to the level of commitment and dedication to education by the teaching fraternity, “but most of all, a recognition and understanding that these are unusual circumstances that require all hands on deck.”