THE EDITOR, Sir:
The absence of classroom teachers, leaving students unsupervised and using volunteers from parent groups in certain schools to act as substitute teachers is unacceptable.
My objection is not only based on the lack of teaching credentials, there is also concern about the absence of criminal background clearance. God forbid that a paedophile or other undesirable character is allowed into the classroom!
Furthermore, hiring unemployed or retired teachers is not the most feasible solution because of Jamaica's current economic situation, and, specifically, the fiscal austerity measures that are in place. The addition of more public servants at this time, even if provisional, is not recommended.
Bearing these factors in mind, one might suggest that the youth service programme be extended to all the public schools throughout Jamaica as it was in the 1970s. During that era, many high-school graduates served as teachers' aides and teaching assistants. Youth service workers were not only engaged in the marking and grading of papers, they also assisted the students.
Frequently, youth service workers substituted for the absent teachers. Their continued presence served to ensure that there was little or no disruption in the learning process - because both service workers and students knew what to do.
The recommendation of the Jamaica Teaching Council to hire per diem employees is good, but there is the hidden potential that may give birth to bureaucratic, expensive mechanisms and opens up the door to nepotism - favouring friends and relatives rather than making selections based on merit.
G. GEORGE WILSON
Springfield, St Elizabeth