Shutting out Ms Ali
The treatment of Faria Ali, Principal of ASJA Girls’ College, San Fernando, by the ASJA Board of Education has now become a matter of national concern since, in the absence of any explanation, it appears to be an act of victimisation against a respected educator who happens to be a woman. Ms Ali has been attempting to enter the school since last week Thursday to supervise preparations for its reopening but the Principal has been locked out by members of the ASJA Board.
On Monday, accompanied by TTUTA president Trevor Oliver, she was again prevented from taking up her job and it was only with the intervention of officials of the Education Ministry and the Police that Ms Ali was permitted to enter the school premises.
The determined action of the ASJA Board against Ms Ali must be regarded as a serious matter since she is the principal of a recognised state-assisted secondary school who appears to be well liked and appreciated by not only teachers on her staff but also by students and parents. This was clearly seen in the applause which welcomed her on Monday when she eventually gained entrance into the institution.
Indeed, we have been told that Ms Ali is regarded as an able administrator and that her school is not only well organised but morale and discipline among staff and students is high. On the face of it, then, it seems quite unfair, if not vindictive, for ASJA Board members to attempt to prevent Ms Ali from taking up her duties at the Girls' College without giving any reason or justification for their severe action.
Reports reaching us say that the woman principal fell afoul of the Board because of her independent disposition and her firm ideas regarding administrative matters at the school. Whatever the case, there can hardly be any justification for treating the Principal with such crudity and disrespect; indeed we do not think that the denominational board has the authority to take such unilateral action against a senior educator appointed by the Ministry of Education. Whatever their grouse against Ms Ali may be, it seems that their obligation would be to take the matter to the Ministry or perhaps to the Teaching Service Commission.
Still, we find the anger exhibited by one member of the ASJA Board quite puzzling. What could Ms Ali have done to produce such an irate display when he found that she had been permitted into the school? Not only did he condemn the security guards for letting her in and promised to have them fired, but he also barged into the room where Ms Ali, ASP Jemmot and Mr Oliver were meeting and shouted to the TTUTA president: "You will live to regret this!"
We wonder whether members of the ASJA Board engaged in this extreme action against Ms Ali are concerned about the unfortunate example they are setting for the young and impressionable minds of the school population. They give no explanation for their rejection of Ms Ali and proceed, without consultation with the education authorities, to simply lock her out of the school to which she has been legally assigned. Is this the standard of behaviour they would like to see adopted by the students of ASJA Girls’ College or, for that matter, all the schools run by their Board? And how is their conduct helping to reinforce discipline at the San Fernando College?
Although Ms Ali is back at school, the problem seems far from over and we expect that Ministry officials will get at the root of it so that life at the ASJA Girls’ College can return to normal.
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