NASSAU, The Bahamas — The Minister of Education and Technical and Vocational Training the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin announced the implementation of a Teacher Morale Committee that will find solutions, improve conditions and allay concerns and more importantly provide for the enhancement of the teaching profession, during a press conference at the Ministry on Thursday, January 26, 2023.
The committee is comprised of educators and officials from the public and private sectors, members from The Bahamas Union of Teachers, The Bahamas Educators, Counselors and Allied Workers Union and The Bahamas Educators Managerial Union.
Minister Hanna-Martin said, “We know that education is the key to our national development. In this regard our teachers are central to understanding this critical role.
“Cognizant of the challenges faced in the educational system we determined to zoom into the core issues and bring about solutions to seek to redress what we anticipated was dampened morale of many of our teachers particularly in light of the pandemic but no doubt long preceding this.” As such, a committee was formed.
She explained that one of the first steps was to conduct a survey of hundreds of teachers, from which the findings were an eye opener and contained their cries.
The Minister said the survey sought, to discern the full gamut of the issues that impact teacher productivity and self-fulfillment.
“The results of the online survey, when coupled with the literature review of similar views expressed by teachers in the region have placed before us some hard truths about how teachers feel about their jobs, and what they feel should be done to improve their capacity to function.
“We know, for instance that of the 755 teachers who responded to the online survey, more than 50 per cent of them reported that they did not feel appreciated. However, most teachers (76.3 per cent) reported still being motivated to do their jobs. Additionally, 79.4 per cent of respondents indicated that they were satisfied with their jobs, and 84.9 per cent of respondents revealed that they enjoyed their jobs.”
She also noted that the educators also reported not feeling respected, they decried a lack of adequate resources, and they cited the need for policy reform in areas such as performance assessment documents, opportunities for advancement, improved domicile incentives for family island postings, and the need for class size reductions and teacher mentorship.
The Minister said concerns were also expressed about human resource challenges and poor school leadership. Appropriate staffing, obsolete curricula, mental health support. Communication from the Ministry to teachers were also singled out, as were inadequate physical resources, and a lack of parental involvement.
She explained the need for timetabling and other training, and additional professional development opportunities were also identified for address.
“It was surmised by committee members who reviewed many of the individual comments from teachers that while teachers are committed to their jobs, their morale can be considerably enhanced, and the committee recommended a number of concrete responses to address the identified deficiencies on a short, medium and long term basis.”
Minister Hanna-Martin said the short-term recommendations are those which it was felt should be accomplished within 12 months. Medium term initiatives were seen as being necessary within two to three years, while long-term initiatives are those suggestions which will require three years or more to implement.
“Perhaps the most profound recommendation emanating from the report in terms of the financial sustainability of teachers is the commitment to bringing teachers’ salaries in line with top tier professionals, such as engineers, physicians and attorneys.”