Sat | Dec 15, 2018

Teacher shortage! - Schools lament lack of seasoned educators for the classrooms

Published:Tuesday | August 28, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
“The ministry of education did invest in some scholarships for mathematics and science teachers and some of those students are coming out into the system” – Dr Garth Anderson, JTA president.

With less than a week to the start of the new school year, the exodus of seasoned teachers from the classrooms is presenting a fresh challenge for several institutions.

Teachers of mathematics and related subject areas are of greater concern, evident by the high volume of advertisements in the newspapers from schools seeking to fill those vacancies.

Keith Wellington, principal of St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS), said this is an issue they have been dealing with for a number of years.

"The department [comprised] eight math teachers, and of the eight, four are gone," he told The Gleaner.

"Those four left this year (last school term), but this has been an issue for the last seven to eight years. Persons just come and go."

He said the best solution he can think of is to encourage students who do very well in mathematics, the sciences and other related subjects to get involved in the system.

"For us, it is not just mathematics, but math-related subjects as well. So physics, chemistry and the technical areas are affected," said Wellington. "I have been advertising for an electrical teacher for the entire summer and I have not been able to get a replacement. I needed a physics teacher and I had to get one from Cuba. For chemistry, we had to employ someone who has a degree in chemistry, but no teacher training."

 

MATHS IS A CHALLENGE

 

Garth Gayle, principal of Charlemont High School in St Catherine, faces similar challenges, but noted that the institution is doing its best to ensure that there is a smooth transition when the new school term begins.

"We are suffering with that issue and we have tried several times to get teachers. We actually lost two math teachers to death and we are trying to fill those two vacancies," said Gayle.

"We are OK in the other areas, such as the sciences, but math is a challenge at the moment for us."

President of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA), Dr Garth Anderson, confirmed that a lack of teachers continues to be of concern for a number of schools across the island.

"I have heard the concerns, and as the principal of a tertiary institution, I have been affected, as well as my colleagues," Anderson told The Gleaner.

"The Ministry of Education did invest in some scholarships for mathematics and science teachers and some of those students are coming out into the system. That is assisting in filling the gaps, but there is still a challenge, because you are losing some of your seasoned, trained teachers who are teaching up to CXC (Caribbean Examinations Council) and CAPE (Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination)."

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com