Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
THE LICENSING of teachers could become a reality during the next parliamentary year.
Director of the Education Transformation Programme Jean Hastings said legislation would be brought to Parliament in the 2013/2014 legislative year to formally establish the Jamaica Teaching Council (JTC).
She told a parliamentary oversight committee on Wednesday that, after the JTC was legally established, the council would be able to register and license teachers.
At present, the council can only register teachers.
"For the Teaching Council Bill, we are hoping that it will come to Parliament. We are now back with CPC (Chief Parliamentary Counsel) for the final draft legislation before it is tabled in Parliament," Hastings told members of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC).
She indicated that, by the first half of 2013, the bill should be tabled in the House of Representatives.
During the PAAC deliberations, committee member Mikael Phillips also raised concerns about the utilisation of resources in the education sector.
He argued that there was an urgent need for the rationalisation of resources in the education sector to achieve optimal results.
Phillips was supported by committee chairman Edmund Bartlett who pointed out that there were schools with less than 50 students and a staff complement almost equal to that number.
"I have actually spoken to the minister (Ronald Thwaites) regarding some schools in my area that are at enrolment levels that are totally uneconomic to operate," Bartlett said.
Responding to the concerns of the committee members, Elaine Foster-Allen, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, said plans were under way to deal with staffing issues.
However, she explained that the ministry could not just go ahead and transfers teachers.
"There are issues around transferability as you know Mr Chairman, teachers are employed to schools and the regulations would have to be changed so that we can do that transfer," Foster-Allen said.
"The problem we are faced with right now and we are seeking to address is that we are really talking about the Code of Regulations and the Education Act, unless there are changes in regulations guiding leave and the employment of teachers, we can hardly move," she stressed.
She said the ministry and the Jamaica Teachers' Association were in discussion on the way forward.