EDUCATION MINISTER Ronald Thwaites has said cutting the amount of paid vacation leave for teachers could help reduce the high rate of unemployment within the teaching profession.
Thwaites said while his ministry acknowledges the need for more specially trained teachers in classrooms across the country, the lack of funds within the ministry's coffers has made it impossible to plug the gap.
"If we could get a concession on the vacation leave, departmental leave, discretionary leave and holidays, we would save enough money to be able to employ a teacher in every single infant school that we have."
"We would be able to employ some of these teachers who we have trained into special educators. We would be able to double the number of numeracy and literacy specialists where there is so obviously a deficit," Thwaites said.
The minister was addressing scores of teachers and principals during a Region One back-to-school conference at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston on Wednesday.
Thwaites also used the platform to announce that the proposed Jamaica Teaching Council legislation should be presented to Parliament within the next few months.
While saying that the legislation will seek to bring a greater level of pedigree to the system, Thwaites warned persons at the gathering that there will be no room for underperformance.
"Those who are performing need not worry. Those who are there only on the way to something else, the teachers who do not turn up for class, the teacher who will take half of the 190 school days in a year in leave, there can be no sympathy for them," Thwaites warned.
Under the legislation, the JTC will be mandated to license and register all government-paid teachers. The council will also be given the power to suspend or cancel the registration of a teacher.