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Gleaner Editors' Forum | Teaching Council Bill moves closer to agreement

Published:Friday | September 14, 2018 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue/Gleaner Writer
Dr Garth Anderson, JTA president.
Georgia Waugh Richards, immediate past president, Jamaica Teachers Association

Years after it was first proposed, the Jamaica Teaching Council Bill - which will provide for the establishment of a governing body for the profession as well as a regime for the licensing and registration of all government-paid teachers - is now closer to reality.

It appears that the Govern-ment and representatives of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA), which represents 25,000 teachers, have found common ground on several aspects of the bill, making it more palatable to teachers.

"There are some issues around the Jamaica Teaching Council Bill that impact our professional standings and as you know, it's aimed at professionalising teaching. We have had and made observations, raised concerns about it, and we have seen where some corrections have been made," said JTA President

Dr Garth Anderson, during a Gleaner Editors' Forum last week.

"At present, we are hoping to meet with the Jamaica Teaching Council to iron out an issue we have, particularly around the penalty, as the bill seems all punitive, and you can get teachers to comply without being punitive."

He said while the JTA may not necessarily agree with the outcomes, its members appreciate that attempts were made to listen to their concerns.

"They have not necessarily been addressed to our liking, as there are still some areas we have concerns with.

For example, the almost criminalising of teachers who breach certain aspects. If you are operating without a licence, the fines are pretty heavy, half a million dollars or six months' imprisonment," Anderson told the forum.




According to the JTA president, while the current state of the bill is better today than it was years ago, moving away from being purely punitive would make it a better document.

One sticking point of the bill appears to be who constitutes the council.

Immediate past president of the JTA, Georgia Waugh Richards, said the teachers are concerned that like other professional bodies that are regulated by their own, such as the Jamaican Bar Association with lawyers, the union believes teachers should be the main regulators.

"We want to be predom-inantly featured on that body, and I don't think anything is wrong with that. We could not walk into a lawyer's office and tell him how to practise law. And therefore we want educators to guide the process and to regulate us," she said.