Hold it, Minister Reid!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

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Dear Editor,

At a time when democratic principles must be fortified and protected against repugnant, autocratic tendencies, news has come that the Ministry of Education has uttered an edict, which in effect seeks to muzzle educators and board members who dare to have a different opinion from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.

The ministry must realise that this so-called Code of Conduct is a precursor to fascism in our State apparati, and therefore must abandon this path.

Further, the People's National Party Youth Organisation calls upon the prime minister of Jamaica, who was once minister of education, to instruct the Ministry of Education to quickly retract this effrontery to the fundamental rights and freedoms of Jamaican citizens guaranteed in the constitution.

This new code would prevent educators and board members from criticising the minister and Ministry of Education and also prevent board chairmen and principals from being members of political parties, which is a guaranteed right in the Jamaican Constitution.

We must not forget, board chairmen are volunteers, not employees of the Government, and their service must not be contingent upon the whims and fancies of a wayward minister.

In 2017, it was this same minister who had to be cautioned by the Press Association of Jamaica for utterances which appeared to erode press freedom in Jamaica, and so we are not surprised by his latest actions.

We are calling on Minister Ruel Reid to confirm the following:

• Is he still the principal of Jamaica College?

• Does he occupy the cottage reserved for the principal?

• Does he receive any emoluments from the private or public sector based on being in the position of principal?

• Was his contract renewed for an additional four years, last year by the board of Jamaica College, which reports to him?

• What is the maximum period for secondment of a principal?

If the responses to these questions are in the affirmative, this represents a case study in conflict of interest.

We remind Minister Ruel Reid that the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information is not a fiefdom of which he is lord and master. We remind him that he is no massa, and educators and school boards are not his chattel.

We will not sit by and allow this minister to suppress freedom of thought, and so we are prepared to ask the courts to adjudicate on this matter on behalf of the hard-working educators and board members who continue to give stellar service to our Jamaican children.

Krystal Tomlinson


People's National Party Youth Organisation

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