Reid says sorry again, now publicly to teachers for 'corrupt and extortionists' comment

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, August 24, 2017

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MONTEGO BAY, St James —Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid yesterday publicly expressed his regrets over what has become his infamous reference to some school leaders as “corrupt and extortionists” regarding the collection of fees from students.

“I want to publicly apologise for the hurts that may have occurred in that regard,” the education minister told delegates in attendance at the final day of the three-day Jamaica Teachers' Association 53rd Annual Conference at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa.

“The (education) minister is responsible for spiritual leadership within the education sector. And so, as a lay pastor myself, I have to lead by example. There are times when... and I remember when Jesus himself had to use some harsh words. And He himself had to reflect on it. I have personally reached out and I have said to persons that I have withdrawn those statements.”

On the opening day of the conference, president of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions, Helene Davis Whyte ,took the education minister to task for his comments.

“We cannot have a situation where teachers and our principals are being made out to be extortionists and corrupt; I have heard that come from some persons,” Davis Whyte said in reference to the education minister.

She added: “And I will tell you, as in all professions, you are not going to find all angels in there. But the same way you wouldn't characterise the legal profession, and we don't characterise the medical profession that way, why should we be characterising our teachers in that kind of way?”

She even noted that, despite lawyers getting into problems sometimes, the legal profession has not been characterised as corrupt or as extortionists.

Davis Whyte, meanwhile, described the figure of $19,000 a year per student as woefully inadequate.

But yesterday, Senator Reid explained that some schools receive more than others.

“There is no truth that any recent government has spent only $19,000 per child. Certainly at the secondary level we are spending upwards of $47 billion on secondary level education alone. And so some schools receive a higher per capita of $190,000, some receive somewhere around $176,000, but let us be very clear I don't want nobody come here and mislead us,” the education minister said yesterday.

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