Remember children in ASJA conflict
While it is difficult for outsiders to tell the rights and wrongs of the conflict between the ASJA Girls’ College board and the principal, Farial Ali, it should be noted that this is not the first time the school has hit the headlines.
Members of the board have been critical of the principal’s management of her staff. Their method of dealing with this difference of views has been to lock her out of the school premises.
Ms Ali has responded by turning to the Ministry of Education and to the teachers’ union.
But there have been some confrontations at the school gates, with tempers flaring among board members and parents.
On Monday the gate was slammed in the face of TTUTA president Trevor Oliver when he made a request — surely not an unreasonable one — to be allowed to talk to the teachers and the board.
In response Mr Oliver apparently lost his cool and was reported yesterday as making the melodramatic declaration that he is prepared to die for his job. Fortunately, no one is asking him to.
It was on account of painfully similar scenes that the school became news last year.
In September 2001, teachers were locked out of the school and left standing in the rain on the instructions of the board after they voiced concern over the safety of a new annex built by the board. Chairman of the board, Yacoob Ali, justified the lockout by saying there had been threats to bomb or burn down the school.
By early October last year, the conflict had escalated and not only teachers but parents and even students were locked out of the school for three days.
This absurd and appalling impasse came to an end after the intervention of the Ministry of Education. But whether anything was learned from that episode now seems doubtful, in view of this week’s events.
The latest conflict, between the board and the principal, has been brewing for some time. Surely some resolution could have been reached during the past two months of vacation?
Among the criticism levelled at the principal by Mr Ali was that she had been “running to the press” instead of reporting problems to the ministry. But surely Mr Ali cannot be blaming Ms Ali for the fact that the latest conflict at the school has come to the attention of the media? Locking the gates of a school against the principal is so extreme an act that it is bound to attract notice.
On the face of it, it seems that the management style of the school board, not only that of the principal, needs urgent and careful scrutiny.
All those involved need to remember that staff, parents and school boards are supposed to hold the interest of the children paramount. It is hard to see how any of them could imagine that the children for whose welfare they are responsible are being served by this kind of unseemly public brawling.
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