Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
THE MINISTRY of Education and the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) have reached an understanding in relation to schools being opened on Independence Day to mark the Jamaica 50 celebrations.
Initially, the JTA took issue with the decision to open public schools on Independence Day but an understanding was reached earlier this week that while schools can be opened for a period on Independence Day to facilitate celebratory activities, students and teachers are under no obligation to attend.
Both Education Minister Ronald Thwaites and president of the JTA, Paul Adams, were in harmony that it would be desirable that students and teachers play a part in the milestone celebrations.
"It is the understanding that while there is no obligation to go, it would not be a bad thing if schools by themselves, or with community groups and parents, take an hour and a half or two to participate in celebratory activities," Adams told The Gleaner.
The right thing to do
Thwaites was singing the same tune. "It's just the right thing to do, we did it 1962. We are all invited to come to school to raise the flag and recite the pledge along with a motivational speech," he asserted.
The minister added: "It could involve community members. Everybody in schools may not attend but the school is the centre of community life and, therefore, it is most appropriate that there should be some observance at the school and the response that we are getting is good."
Adams said he met with the ministry on Tuesday and the JTA outlined its concerns. He said the ministry was told that on a public holiday, teachers should be under no obligation to attend any function.
Adams disclosed that the JTA also expressed concern about the short period within which school administrators were informed of the plan and the likelihood of teachers and students using public transportation being placed at risk on a public holiday.
"The ministry agreed that the time was short and that as it was a public holiday, no obligation could be placed on teachers to attend the celebratory activities," said Adams.