Immediate past president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) Clayton Hall has hailed the historic anti-trafficking project to be undertaken jointly by the JTA and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
The project, signed to on Monday by both teacher organisations at the JTA conference in Ocho Rios, St Ann, seeks to address the issue of child trafficking, which the AFT says has increased rapidly in both countries.
Speaking with The Gleaner on Tuesday night, Hall said the agreement would impact Jamaica on two fronts.
"Firstly, on the international situation, we have to deal with the rating agencies like those coming out of the US (United States) who rank Jamaica based on what it is we do for human trafficking," Hall said. "So if the teachers' associations assist by going on the offensive to educate the masses about human trafficking, it means that we will rank better and, therefore, be able to procure some international aid."
EDUCATING BOTH SIDES
Also, Hall argued that the efforts would get the US "to understand that what they now term as 'human trafficking' is a cultural norm within Jamaica, whereby it is customary for persons to take children into their homes who are not related to them. And it is something we do normally and would not consider it human trafficking. So it is education for our populace as well as the Americans."
Apart from educating the populace about the dangers of trafficking for forced labour or sexual exploitation, the project will also provide teachers with resources to identify children who might be at risk. It will harness community resources to try to protect those children and advocate on behalf of survivors in various avenues.
A release from the AFT states that the International Labour Organization estimates that nearly 5.5 million children worldwide are involved in trafficking.