Central Abaco Primary School (CAPS) has been in the limelight in recent days to the point of making national headlines. The first of several incidents began when the work hours for teachers were changed.
Beginning Sept. 22 through Sept. 26, Chantal Cox, The Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) Area Vice President for the Northern Bahamas, accompanied teachers at CAPS on their weeklong protest in front of the school. Clinton Laroda, BUT’s Area Vice President for Grand Bahama joined the teachers on Sept. 26.
Cox explained that the teachers’ work hours were changed from the standard 8:45 a.m. arrival time to a 3:15 p.m. departure to requesting the teachers be at the school from 8:30 a.m.
She said this change is in direct violation of the collective bargaining agreement put in place with the Government. In a show of solidarity, the teachers assembled at the front of the school at 8:30 a.m. throughout the week then proceeded onto the school grounds at 8:45 a.m.
The Abaconian also received reports of a demonstration at Abaco Central High School as well that did not end on a good note. Students were said to have become vocal and disrespectful toward Jerome Fitzgerald, Minister of Education, Science and Technology, as he did his tour of the school because their concerns were not being heard regarding a teacher shortage.
According to Cox’s report, the Abaco District has approximately 116 teachers and a number of educators who have been impacted by this change in work hours. In her investigation, Cox claimed that educators in other districts are not being made to comply with this change.
In an effort to bring clarity to the situation, she spoke to Education Director Lionel Sands who allegedly confirmed that a circular was sent out to all school within The Bahamas.
Nevertheless, Cox said that educators in other districts do not report to work until 8:45 a.m. and are given a five-minute grace period up until 8:50 a.m. to report to work.