Schools Supervisor 1 Phillip Rochford lamented the poor turnout of Tobago teachers at a professional development workshop at the Tobago Nutrition & Cooperative Society Building last Friday.
The workshop, hosted by the Tobago Teachers’ Get-Together as part of its 79th anniversary celebrations, was titled Mental Health: A Critical Pillar of a Sustainable Education System.
Rochford, who delivered greetings on behalf of the Division of Education, Innovation and Energy, noted the large contingent of teachers from Trinidad at the workshop. He said this was in stark contrast to the Tobago delegation.
“It means, therefore, that as partners in education, we need to have a conversation about how we are going to work together to motivate our Tobago teachers to understand that professional development is critical to their development,” Rochford told the audience, which included TTUTA president Lynsley Doodhai and the association’s Tobago officer Orlando Kerr.
“We have the situation where there is supposedly a policy that you cannot move the school from its location to elsewhere. So, there is no consequence for non-attendance.”
Rochford said attendance at such seminars is even more important given the fact that one in every five people in the world is faced with a mental health disorder.
He said in light of the division’s support of the activity, “then we expect that the opportunity will be grabbed with both hands and persons will make full use of it.”
Rochford said the theme of the workshop was both relevant and timely as teachers experience trauma and stress.
In an earlier address, president of the Primary Schools’ Principals’ Association Nigel Hospedales said teachers work in stressful conditions while struggling to promote good health for all, often to their own detriment.
“However, to advance this agenda, we need to advocate for improvements in the system to detect mental health of all through community empowerment, technology and good governance,” he said.
Hospedales said the time had come for mental health to be placed on the front burner of the education system.
The event featured a lively presentation on mental health by the drama group Arts In Action.
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