The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) has strongly criticised the manner in which the Government has managed the issuing of the $100 book vouchers to primary school students.
Assistant General Secretary of the DLP and former president of the Barbados Union of Teachers, Pedro Shepherd, said it was an impulsive initiative which caused unnecessary confusion among parents and schools.
“As a responsible Opposition Party, and one that has held Government on several occasions, the DLP will support any initiative to ease the burden placed Barbadians at this time. We introduced the School Meals Programme and the Text Book Loan Scheme to assist Barbadian parents who were less fortunate,” Shepherd said.
“The DLP would want to inform our visiting Prime Minister, that to have waited until August 11th to come up with this idea was way too late. Schools were already on holiday and parents/guardians had already purchased their books.
“There was obviously no real thought given to how this initiative could be executed efficiently. The confusion of headteachers and other education officials who were bombarded with queries bears testimony to yet another hot and sweaty move,” Shepherd stated.
The educator said parents and guardians usually got booklists in July with end of year reports so they could source books early, but with the announcement they began calling the schools “to no avail” and also “questioning teachers as they met them on the streets”.
The new arrangement of looking for three-month old receipts, as outlined by Minister of Education Kay McConney “will go nowhere in serving its purpose in light of all the requirements” and will further frustrate parents who will not get reimbursement until 2024.
As a solution, Shepherd suggested piloting the policy with the nursery and reception students when they register and then extend to the rest of the primary school population for 2024.
“The Party further advised Government that at the end of every school year going forward, they can affix the $100 voucher to the students’ reports. In that way, each child will receive the assistance in a timely manner.”
The DLP again spoke to the lack of foresight and forethought by the current administration and said “education was no place to be using the trial and error approach” and said they remained available to help Government in putting a proposal together.
“Education policy must be clearly thought out and tested before implementation as correcting damage in education is not a simple as replacing a damaged car tyre,” Shepherd declared. (PR/SAT)