Mon | Oct 22, 2018

Standoff, School lockdown; teachers' protest enters day two

Published:Tuesday | March 13, 2018 | 12:29 AMPaul Clarke
Students from Caribbean Maritime University arrive at Duke Street, Kingston, to assist with administrative duties at St Aloysius Primary and St George's Girls' Primary and Infant schools as some teachers stayed away from the classroom yesterday.

Disgruntled teachers are stepping up pressure on the Government for a second day of protest action to deliver a better salary package than the 16-per cent over four years that they are being asked to accept.

Yesterday, in preempting the likely fallout, the Ministry of Education put in place a number of contingencies including utilising Regional Response Teams comprising officers from the ministry, select tertiary institutions, secondary schools student bodies and the National Parent Teachers Association of Jamaica.The contingency measures covered 760 Primary, All Age and Primary and Junior High Schools and 171 High Schools.

Among the tertiary students assigned to assist schools were representatives of the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU). "We were sent to assist the school in any administrative efforts that may require our help in," said CMU student Shane Solomon, just after disembarking the university's bus on his way to the St Aloysius Primary School.

Another set of CMU students made their way over to the St George's Primary and Infant, while a similar scene played out at Excelsior High school on Mountain View Avenue and at the Jesse Ripoll Primary School.The CMU students were briefed and placed on standby alert to take charge of classes as of yesterday, the education ministry stated in a press release.

Further, the ministry said that the contingency was to ensure the safety and security of the students to ensure that all schools across the island will be effectively manned during this period.

Yesterday several Corporate Area schools reported that less than a third of their student population never turned up for regular classes, while others had a steady stream of parents and guardians returning for the children they had earlier dropped off.

One parent, who went to retrieve her two daughters from the Jesse Ripoll Primary, told The Gleaner that she was fed up with the Government's stance.

"This Government ya slack bad; dem fe give the teachers the money they want because no child can learn in a school without teachers," said Monique Smith.

Meanwhile, the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) has described the ongoing spat between the teachers and the Government as a "crisis of governance" and again has called on the Andrew Holness-led Government to return to the bargaining table to settle the impasse.

"This government has created an unnecessary crisis in the education system weeks before the GSAT exams and less than a month before hundreds of Jamaican students will face their CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate) sittings in failing to arrive at a settlement of the ongoing impasse with educators," a release read.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Education has advised that the following events have been postponed:

- All training for the Alternative Pathways to Secondary Education (APSE) programme.

- Principal leadership training.

All meetings scheduled for today with ministry officers.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com