About Education

A great number of teachers, Members of the Simar union, gathered on Monday afternoon for a meeting at the end of which they had asked for the resignation of the Minister of Education, having lost trust in his ability to manage learning on the island.

Simultaneously, some of my friends in education report that the teachers themselves are afraid of change and that their suspicion and lack of trust are the result of fear, and the desire to cling to the familiar status quo, without having to make the effort to transform.

They are scared of the transition to on-line, they are uncomfortable with technology, and buck the need to teach old dogs new tricks, my pro-minister crew reports. Not all, but a good number of old-timers, just dig in their heels.

Fact: Under the guise of crisis – CoVid19 – the MinEdu has AGAIN attempted to drive a few round pegs into square holes and rush in changes he’s been contemplating for a while.

Without talking to his minions.

They heard about the 2020-21 school year plans via a letter, and/or social media.

Last week a formal announcement in the form of a letter to teachers, stated that school next year will offer a mix of on line, and classroom learning, for example, elementary education will consist of 2 days of traditional schooling and 3 days of leaning from a distance. Kindergarten will enjoy 3 days of traditional schooling and 2 days of leaning from a distance. Vocational schooling 100% from a distance, same as University of Aruba, and IPA, the teachers’ college.

Luckily, common sense prevailed and the plan was nixed, but with the Office of Calamity managing Education, one may expect the unexpected.

Education is a very HIGH concern to parents here and the #1 key to success, as a country. If we mess up this country’s educational system, we handicap the island’s future, and it will take a while to transition to e-schooling, can’t be done overnight!

If you cannot guarantee quality education, a mass migration will follow. Locals will leave to go elsewhere, anywhere, where they feel they can secure opportunities for their kids.

We have a DUTY to educate our kids.

But right now, it’s all hanging mid-air.

Examples? de Schakels, a private school, opened on Monday on time, because staffers prepared what was needed last week. They have resources.

Some public schools hosted teachers’ conferences on Monday, discussing future needs, and gearing up to start by reviewing their preparedness.

As we all know, some schools have no sinks for hand washing, no soap, no paper towels, no budgets for these luxuries; and they require stickers and signs with instructions, which must be ordered.

Having been abandoned for 50+ days, some need cleaning; most of them have windows which were condemned with the arrival of air-conditioning, now the new Dutch regulations call for ventilation, and the windows must conform to that.  

Some schools already decided to delay the start to August and the 20/21 year, staying shut for now. Others will reopen between June 1st and 18th, and will keep the parents updated. (DPS)

Montessori will start May 25th with small groups of kids, for 3 hours a day.

The MAVO schools start next week.  They are currently busy with final results of the exam classes. Congratulations to those who passed. Next week they will be working at half capacity, 50% of students per class.  

From what I understood, schools decide their own fates, and it is all coordinated by the Office of Calamity.

Besides the nitty-gritty of reopening education, the big underlying issue is the MinEdu’s desire to shift personnel, as instructed, and downsize the number of people working for GOA by moving teir employment contacts to foundations, and that is why he decided to affiliate EPI with EPB, under one umbrella and pair Colegio San Nicolas, with de Schakels.

Good move?

Bad Move?

No one knows because the decision-making process was opaque with zero input from the field.

And then there is of course the subject of salary cuts, 12.5% that according to calculations really amount to 18%.

Is it a permanent or a temporary cut?

Opinion: Teaching is hard enough WITHOUT pay cuts, and if common sense indeed rules, teachers’ salaries along with those in law enforcement, health, and the fire brigade, should not have been cut, because they are front-liners, and besides, salaries in education start from a low of Awg 1,700 to a medium of Awg 3,800 and a ceiling of Awg 6,320, which isn’t excessive at all.  



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May 20, 2020
Rona Coster