Twelve of the 29 teachers of the New Amsterdam Multilateral School (NAMS) have sought transfers amid divisions, including racial tension, and the parent-teacher body is seeking a meeting with the education minister.
This matter was recently addressed by Chairman of Region Six David Armogan, who is of the opinion that no teacher or student should be transferred unless and until the underlying matters are properly addressed. According to Armogan, it is long overdue for the Ministry of Education to not only investigate the matter but to also come up with solutions to the problems affecting the teachers there.
According to information gathered, a meeting was held with 29 teachers of the high school and the president of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) in early January, 2018, where racial tension, mismanagement of finances and the school’s leadership were among the main issues discussed. The following day a meeting was held at the school with parents, where they were informed of the ongoing issues.
Armogan stressed at a recent press briefing that if the issues are not tackled immediately there is a possibility that it will further affect the teachers and their ability to perform their jobs to the highest level. Students would also be affected, he added.
“This is a situation that is going to bring that school down on its knees. Already we are having requests from many parents to move their children from that school and if we allow the floodgate to open I think that school would be empty by tomorrow morning,” he said.
According to Armogan’s information, lines have been drawn between two officials and he warned that it could tear the school apart make learning if the situation is not addressed.
The chairman further explained that when the matter first came up at the school, a senior teacher was transferred to another school after an investigation was launched. However, he said, “… the transfer was rescinded as a result of representation made at a certain political level.”
According to a source, the senior teacher was given an administrative transfer letter in November, 2017, which was seen by Stabroek News. The letter stated that “covering approval was given by the Honourable Minister of Education for the administrative transfer of [the teacher] from New Amsterdam Secondary School to Vrymens Erven Secondary with effect from 2018-01-02.”
The letter had also noted, that the transfer was based on a recommendation from a visiting team, which felt that the teacher’s services would better be utilised at the Vrymens Erven Secondary School.
Armogan stressed, that when it comes to education, nothing, especially politics, should be involved in the running of a school.
“The head teacher apparently is not able to command the respect from the teachers and students at the school,” he noted.
The source had told Stabroek News, that the main issue is between the head master and the senior teacher who was supposed to have been transferred.
According to the source, the issue has been ongoing for several years now and has led to tension among the staff in the school.
The source noted, that when news of the senior teacher being transferred broke, staff had thought that was the end of the issue. However, after a meeting in Georgetown between the senior teacher and senior education officials, she remained at the school. The source believes that in order for the school to stand up once more as the leading high school in Region Six, the leadership issue must be dealt with urgently.
Armogan had pointed out that the school topped the region numerous times in the past. However, he said that the tension among the staff has hindered the school’s performance in recent years.
Armogan also told the media that the Chief Education Officer Marcel Hutson was made aware of the issue and promised to send persons to investigate. However, the chairman said, “… I haven’t seen any action as yet, we need to move very quickly in terms of bringing some conclusion to the issues.”
Meanwhile, President of the Parent-Teacher Association Wayne Williams, when contacted, stressed that the parents of children at the school and also the teachers would like to meet with the Minister of Education Nicolette Henry. Williams said only then would the minister be able to properly address the problem.
According to Williams, he had also considered the idea of transferring his son to a Georgetown school but with the interest of the school at heart he thought it best to attempt to be a part of the solution to the issue.