Mon | May 20, 2019

Reid wants code of conduct for educators in politics

Published:Thursday | January 31, 2019 | 12:27 AM

Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid has called for both Cabinet and the parliamentary Opposition to mull over the formulation of a code of conduct for politically active persons who are educators, including monitoring their social media activities.

Reid, in making the disclosure to The Gleaner after yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, stressed that such a move would be in line with good governance.

“There has been some latitude for teachers to be politically active while they are still employed, but there is no code of conduct. So I am signalling that outside of board appointments, for good governance, that is a conversation that we need to have,” he said.

“We already have a political code of conduct for how politicians operate, but this space – which, frankly, is the only set of public servants that demonstrably are that politically active while they are still employees of the Government – I think based on all the discussions about governance, it’s a good time for us to have that conversation and an agreement between the parties as to how/when teachers, principals, vice-principals who become councillors, caretakers, they will have to conduct themselves while they still remain in the employ and payment of the Government,” he explained.

Small enters arena

Wolmer’s Boys’ School principal Dr Walton Small is the most recent school administrator to take up the political mantle.

Small, the outgoing president of the powerful Inter-Secondary Schools’ Sports Association, was selected on Sunday by the People’s National Party’s (PNP) National Executive Council as its standard-bearer for the St James Southern constituency.

Before him, it was Padmore Primary’s Keisha Hayle, who unsuccessfully contested a by-election as the PNP candidate for the North West St Andrew seat against Dr Nigel Clarke. Hayle has remained as caretaker in the seat.

Reid says he also intends to raise the matter with Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown.

“The civil servants are not allowed to be politically active, so for good governance, if you allow a group of public-sector workers to be politically active, there should be a code of conduct to avoid political and governance conflicts,” he told The Gleaner last night. “This will include their political activities on social media. It will not be a free-for-all in education.”

Reid, too, was headmaster of Jamaica College (JC) prior to assuming senatorship and ministership in 2016. He is on a leave of absence until 2021.

“Like myself, who is on a leave of absence, that’s a different thing because I’m now not at JC and fully with the Government.

“But if I were still actively the principal of JC when I was senator, there are things that you can’t say because you’re still in the employ of the particular school or Government,” added Reid, who is the Jamaica Labour Party’s caretaker in St Ann North Western.

syranno.baines@gleanerjm.com