Filling the Gaps – Jamaica Observer

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The The government is scrambling to ensure it fills the gaps left by what is being called an exodus of teachers from Jamaican classrooms, which is expected to impact the sector in the coming school year.

The plan includes the recruitment of 964 specialist teachers who have just completed their studies, 121 of whom have benefited from the special scholarship program of the Ministry of Education and will be linked to the government for five years.

On Monday, Education Minister Fayval Williams stressed that replacement strategies are still in the works, as attrition in the teaching profession is expected and not unique to the profession.

“There was a continuous evaluation, because we have teacher movements at the end of the school year and during the year. We always have to make sure that we have substitute teachers. We know that every year there is a percentage of teachers who decide to leave the teaching profession for one reason or another. So we are anticipating some level of attrition, so the preparedness is there and will continue to be there,” she told a news conference called by the ministry in response to growing cries of concern. various segments of society regarding teacher migration and the impact it will have.

Williams said that so far only 167 resignations have reached his office since July. The Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) says the number of educators who will not be returning in September is higher and growing. The minister was lambasted by the parliamentary opposition for not treating the situation as a crisis.

“Over the years we’ve seen some of our teachers make very personal decisions to migrate and we have to respect those decisions and wish them well. Sorry to see them go, but we respect,” Williams said.

She pointed out that not only are teachers leaving for jobs in other countries, but some may also transfer to private institutions here.

“Some of the resignations we have may be due to migration, we don’t know precisely, because our teachers have no obligation to tell us why they resign; some do, some don’t. These resignations, we know , will affect the new school year because they are so close to the new school year. Obviously the resignations that would have been in the last school year, many would have been filled out, so those would not be in that number. We are still getting information from our directors, so this 167 could change as we move from late August to September, and even until then there may be resignations,” she pointed out.

The education minister said secondary schools were already reporting shortages in some subjects and boards should respond accordingly.

She said the pool of 964 teachers who should be available to work in the public school system includes specialists in accounting, biology, mathematics, physics, chemistry, English language, literature and computer science. She said there were 11 early childhood teachers included in the batch, along with physical education teachers and 259 primary education teachers specializing in foreign languages ​​and social studies.

Williams described other interventions, including giving principals pre-approval to appoint teachers where there are clearly vacant positions. This has been a sore point of the system over the years, with complaints that in some cases teachers have been waiting for years for appointments where there are clearly vacancies.

“This will create greater efficiency in the system and reduce the time it would take in terms of back and forth [with] of the ministry,” noted the minister.

She said school boards have also been allowed to request extensions for teachers whose retirement is pending for September, to fill places in secondary schools. This will be based on their latest performance reports. Boards can also hire part-time teachers, including from the pool of teachers who retired in January 2018.

In addition, the ministry says it will engage approximately 200 pre-trained first degree graduates from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica University of Technology and the University of the Northern Caribbean in specialized areas.

“They are university professors; they have first degrees, but not the teaching degree,” she explained.

Final-year student teachers in accredited programs will be permitted to complete areas of specialization with special approval and justification. These teachers will be paid in the same salary range as pre-trained teachers.

In addition, 70 teachers are expected to join the public school system under the Jamaica-Cuba bilateral education program. This includes 59 Spanish teachers, five chemistry teachers, and three math and chemistry teachers each.

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