The state has a responsibility to be transparent and ask permission from the ward, guardian or parent of a child in Barbados’ school system before doing anything that would encroach on privacy.
This is the view of social activist Winston Clarke, who was speaking during a protest by parents at Trevor’s Way in Bridgetown on Saturday against the controversial Inter-American Development Bank questionnaire which was recently administered to 733 first form students across six secondary schools.
“It is only because somebody, a journalist, leaked the story out that we have become aware of it. There is no transparency. When you put your child into school you give them permission between the hours of nine and three to inculcate and give them with academia, ethics, morals etc. If they do anything that is conflicting or contradictory to what your principles are, then it’s distrust,” Clarke said.
Some of the parents involved have decided they would like to file a class action lawsuit against the Ministry of Education. .
Denise Rouse said that despite not having any children of her own who had taken the pre-test, she wanted to take a firm stance in order to make sure this does not happen to another generation of children.
Lucina Alleyne, a grandmother also expressed concern about the administration of the questionnaire.
Amongst the scores of parental figures that gathered in protest was fellow social activist Felicia Dujon and attorney Corey Beckles, who said he was there to offer legal advice.
Dujon believes that now was the time for parents to make sure they were being heard.
“I believe this is a matter of justice. An injustice has been done, there have been violations of parental rights and it is one question of what we should do as parents. I believe the ethical thing to do as a parent is to stand up and ensure that your rights are acknowledged and that you are not an invisible person in the lives of your children.”
Dujon added: “Parents have to hold the Government and all the persons responsible accountable for all the injustice that has been done. We also have to remember that children’s rights must be upheld by all responsible agencies particularly those in an academic or school environment. We want to ensure that all our children are safe, not just physically, but psychologically. Right here today we have parents and grandparents coming out to stand up for their children and I think it’s remarkable what they’re doing right now.”
Dujon, who is also a Philosophy lecturer at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus, spoke extensively on the laws associated with this situation on Friday during a lunchtime lecture at the Democratic Labour Party headquarters in George Street, Belleville.
No placards were allowed at the protest and four police officers were in attendance. (Nation News)