Teacher-licensing plans advancing

Published: Tuesday | January 13, 2009

Petrina Francis, Staff Reporter

The Jamaica Teaching Council is moving ahead with plans to license the island's more than 25,000 public-sector teachers.

Dr Winsome Gordon, senior director of the council, said the organisation is aiming to improve the quality, status and effectiveness of teachers.

According to Gordon, the issuance of licences was a strategy that would help to improve the status and the quality of the teaching profession.

The Jamaica Teaching Council was established after the 2004 Task Force Report on Education recommended that teachers be licensed in order to continue practising in Jamaica.

Gordon said before the licensing process could begin, teachers have to be registered. The plan is to have all teachers registered by year end.

"At the same time, we are simultaneously working on the licensing procedures. We have already drafted all the documents to be sent to Cabinet," she noted.

But Gordon could not say when the licensing process would start.

"When the law comes through, it will say 'to teach in Jamaica, you have to be licensed'," said Gordon.

She noted that her office had been working closely with the Jamaica Teachers' Association, which represents some 22,000 teachers.

Gordon told The Gleaner that there would be various tiers of licences. There would be a leadership licence for principals, licences for trained teachers, master teachers and specialist teachers.

The senior director said newly graduated teachers would receive a provisional licence and would undergo a period of mentoring for two years before they were eligible for a teaching licence.

Teachers who are not trained would be given a provisional licence and would be given a time frame to get certified.

"We are working towards change and I am confident that change will come," she said. "I am confident that we will see, coming out of the school system, children with a vision."


Licensing a teacher

A code of ethics for the teaching profession is being developed and teachers who are in breach will have their licences revoked.

Teachers who have been convicted of a criminal offence will be removed from the teaching registry. Those with misdemeanour and other charges will be suspended.

Plans will be put in place to help teachers who constantly underperform to improve. If they cannot improve within an allotted time, they will be advised to move on to new careers.