Don't blame us for poor teachers - colleges
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
IN the face of criticisms about the quality of the teachers being produced, the country's teacher-training institutions have said they are being unfairly blamed for the poor educational output among students.
Dr Asburn Pinnock, principal of Sam Sharpe Teachers' College, told The Gleaner yesterday that there were many factors influencing educational outcomes, including parental involvement, the environment where people live, the environment of the school, resources, and support from the society and the Government.
"When something goes wrong, it can't be one person that is blamed all the time," Pinnock said.
He argued that the vast majority of graduates from teachers' colleges were performing well, but the poor performance of a few tends to be put in the spotlight. Pinnock also placed the blame for poor performance at the feet of some school administrators, who, he said, were using teachers not trained in particular areas to deliver lessons.
Pinnock recalled an incident where his college was being lambasted because of the poor performance of one of its graduates.
"When the chairman of the school called me, I was saying that it is not our student. There is no student by that name who is trained on the secondary programme. She was teaching maths in a prominent high school. I realised it was a primary-trained student - not even the best of the primary lot - that they employed to teach mathematics up to fifth form," he said.
"If you misplace teachers, you are going to get bad results."
Dr Winsome Gordon, CEO of the Jamaica Teaching Council, said the public appeared not to understand the role of the teachers' colleges.
"Sometimes we expect that in four years a college can take a candidate from basic to professionals. There is no profession that does that in pre-service training. The person is trainable. The college gives to the teacher that foundation, helps the teacher to establish a good balance between the academic and personal development, prepares that teacher to enter the profession, and then it is the responsibility of the regulator to shape the profession," Gordon said.
She insisted that the public could continue to expect that the colleges are putting out perfect teachers. "It is not possible. It is a profession that you have to learn on the job."
The Teaching Council CEO said a programme was being put in place to ensure college graduates are mentored for one year by senior professionals as part of a move to improve the quality of teaching in Jamaica.