160+ Jamaican Teachers Resign in Two Months

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    Education and Youth Minister Fayval Williams has disclosed that 167 public teachers resigned between July and August 22, this year.

    “These resignations, we know, will impact staffing for the new school year, as they are so close to the start of the new school year,” Williams said.

    On the other hand, she said close to 1,000 teachers will be added to the sector to offset any impact those resignations may have on the public school system.

    Williams was speaking at a press conference called to update the nation on the troubling issue of teacher migration, which has dominated the public sphere for weeks.

    The Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), in a media interview two weeks ago, put the country on notice that a massive exodus of teachers is looming, as 400 educators have already left this year for more lucrative jobs in the US.

    On Monday, Williams outlined proposed solutions to address any fallout from the teacher migration.
    Before that, however, she explained that the ministry is still gathering information on the number of teachers exiting the island’s classrooms.

    Said Williams:

    “Of the resignations, we have gotten, we do not know precisely (why they leave) because the teachers have no obligations to tell us why they leave. It is a personal decision and we respect that.”

    She also noted that some teachers have left the public school system for private schools.

    In relation to the proposal to stem any fallout from the migration, the Education Minister said there are new pools of specialised teachers available to several schools, including at the primary level.

    “There are 964 specialist teachers who completed their programme of study, and may be available for employment in the Government teaching service,” Williams said, adding that school administrators can make contact with heads of teacher training institutions for such educators.

    A breakdown of the graduate teachers by specialisations reveals that there are educators with: accounting majors with business; biology education double majors; chemistry; and computer science or computer science with business or mathematics double major degrees.

    Additionally, 29 people are graduating with double majors in English and English literature, and 140 mathematics teachers.

    The minister said that physical education, Spanish, and French teachers have also recently graduated and are available to add to the secondary school system.

    Further, there are 111 early childhood teachers among the pool of 964 teachers, as well as 259 primary education teachers.

    Meanwhile, Williams pointed out that also included in the pool of 964 specialist teachers leaving universities or colleges are 121 people who were part of the Ministry of Education and Youth’s special scholarship programme.

    Among them are 67 mathematics teachers, 32 teachers of physics and chemistry, and 17 with industrial education specialisation.

    These individuals are expected to take up their positions in the school system in September, and they are bonded for five years, according to Williams.

    Aside from that programme, there are also teachers available through the ministry’s Build Out Our Science Teachers (BOOST) programme.

    “We have 10 new graduates specialising in mathematics and science, that will enter the system as pre-trained graduate teachers through the BOOST programme.

    “This is a reverse scholarship programme through The University of the West Indies, Mona and the Ministry of Education and Youth, where the serves of the best science students can be accessed, while school leaders ensure that training can be provided to these individuals to improve their effectiveness on the job,” Williams outlined.

    In the meantime, Williams said there are other strategies crafted by the Education Ministry, to aid principals in filling their teacher spots.

    Among them are:

    1. The Voluntary Relocation Programme: Under this initiative, junior high schools have been rationalised and a number of specialised teachers from that section are deployed within the primary schools as general teachers.

    According to Williams, these teachers can also use the programme to be employed within secondary schools.

    2. The Jamaica-Cuban Bilateral Programme: Under this initiative, Williams said that 70 teachers are available, of which 59 are Spanish educators, five in chemistry, three in mathematics, and three in physics.

    The Government, according to Williams, has a framework with the Cuban Government, to bring in these teachers from Cuba to the island.

    3. Principals are given pre-approval for the replacement of teachers in clear vacancies and temporary posts funded by the Education Ministry.

    This means that, whereas before, the principals may have had to go through a process of advising the ministry and awaiting that response from the ministry, the principals have now been given pre-approval to replace teachers in clear vacancies. The aim of this is to create efficiency, Williams said.

    4. School boards can now request the extension of teachers who would have proceeded on retirement, effective September 2022 and beyond.

    5. Approval has been granted for school boards to hire teachers under the part-time facility, to engage individuals who may not be able to engage in the classroom on a full-time work schedule.

    These individuals would include teachers who retired since January 2018 and beyond, and performed well based on their last evaluation report.

    6. Schools have also been allowed to continue to recruit pre-trained graduates. These are individuals with a first degree in a relevant subject area in short supply but have no teaching diploma.

    These individuals should be allowed to undergo training on the job as part of professional development. According to Williams, 200 such people are coming out of various tertiary level institutions that match this criterion.

    7. The engagement of final-year teachers at training institutions, to fill areas of specialisations at various schools.

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