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JTA recruitment affected by slow processing of new teachers by ministry

Published:Monday | August 22, 2016 | 12:00 AMAndre Poyser
Byron Farquharson

The Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) has lamented the slow pace at which the Ministry of Education has been processing new teachers so that their status of employment can be made official.

This, the association says, has impacted its ability to effectively recruit new members and have them officially added to its membership.

JTA General Secretary Byron Farquharson, in his report to the 52nd Annual Conference of the association which is being held at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, cited a low pickup rate by the Ministry of Education as one of the factors derailing the union's recruitment efforts.

"While we applaud the effort of the membership committee to recruit new members, much of what they do is stymied by the slow and relatively low pickup rates by the Ministry of Education," he told the conference.

Outgoing president of the JTA, Norman Allen, in explaining the low pickup rates to The Gleaner said that new teachers who indicate an interest in joining the association have to go through a process where they are duly registered as teachers with the Ministry of Education and given a unique identification number.

According to Farquharson's report to the JTA conference, of the 1,323 new recruits submitted to the ministry, only 720 have been registered and can therefore be considered as official members of the association.

As at June 2016, the number of ministry-employed teachers attached to the JTA stood at 14,175. That is down from 14,240 in February.

"There are a number of varying factors affecting the membership numbers. A number of persons would have retired, some would have migrated, so you have to take those factors into consideration," Allen said in explaining the fall in membership numbers.

He further pointed out that the numbers general increase towards the end of the year when the ministry regularises the employment status of new teachers and assigns them their teacher numbers.

Allen was strident in defending the ability of the union to attract young teachers entering the profession. When The Gleaner raised the matter of apathy towards the JTA among young educators, he said, "There are a number of misconceptions about the JTA, and sometimes as young persons come into the system they don't recognise the value of the association until they find themselves in situations where they actually need the association."