Parents help man schools out west
While the vast majority of the teachers in western Jamaica were off the job yesterday, as part of the nationwide protest to press the Government for a better wage package, many schools were forced to find creative ways to conduct classes, especially for those students who will be sitting the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) nex week and Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) examinations from April to June.
"We don't have our full complement of teachers today, but we have parents coming in and helping out," said Stacey Reynolds, principal of Mt Alvernia High School (MAHS) in Montego Bay. "The lower school will be dismissed at midday, but the grades 11, 12 and 13 who are doing their mock examinations will be here for the duration of the school day."
When The Gleaner visited MAHS shortly before midday, a number of parents who had volunteered to invigilate in the mock examinations were at the school helping out, much to the delight of the appreciative principal.
"We have a number of very committed parents who are always willing to come out and support the school when there is a need, and we are really happy that they have turned out to help us out today," said Reynolds. "We don't know what the situation will be like tomorrow, but we are confident that if there is a need, the parents will be back."
When Dr Michelle Pinnock, regional director for the Ministry of Education's Region Four, was contacted for a full assessment of the impact of industrial action by the teachers in her jurisdiction, she said while attendance records were still being tabulated, it would appear that most of the schools were in operation, albeit with reduced staff complements.
"The parent-teacher asociations and the prefects are helping out in many of the schools, so while many teachers have not reported to school, there is really no reason to panic at this time," said Pinnock.
"It should be interesting to note that many of our high schools are operating reasonably well, especially in regards to the grade 11 students, who are preparing for examinations."
At St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS), principal Keith Wellington was left with quite a challenge on his hands, as of the 110 teachers on staff, only nine reported for duty. Like in the other schools, upper-school students, to include prefects and members of the students' council, assisted in ensuring order on the school's compound.