Tread carefully with Teaching Council
Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer
While there a no fundamental objections to the outcomes being sought under the proposed Jamaica Teaching Council legislation, some principals have urged the Government to tread carefully in its steps towards establishing the law.
The Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) - which represents the island's teachers - through its parish associations has signalled its intention to fight the bill in its present form.
The bill has, among its several proposals, the licensing of teachers in three categories for periods of five years, two years, or less than two years.
It is also proposed that the council will also keep the roll of teachers, discipline teachers and set professional standards, as well as carry out professional development programmes.
Last week, at a Gleaner principals' round table, Heather Murray, president of the Jamaica Association of Secondary Schools Association, agreed with the need for some changes, but argued that this must be balanced.
"The JTA is doing a fine job in representing the teachers. We can't expect wholesale changes, especially how we are planning to go contractual. We need to look at the fine print, and as a teaching profession see how best we can make the changes. But we do have to make some of the changes," suggested Murray.
Teacher leave an issue
According to Murray, the bill is not supported in its current form, and tailoring must be done.
She argued that the varying leaves allotted to teachers cannot be taken away wholesale, and discussions are needed on what should be removed and over what time.
Murray was supported by Stanford Davis, president of the Association of Principals and Vice-Principals.
"I happen to have been part of the initial consultations before even the draft bill. Objections were there from then. There are some things, for example, ways of getting rid of people in the system, I believe this is their way of circumventing the Code (of Regulations) ," said Davis.
"There are some parts that we have to negotiate, but there are some benefits," Davis declared.
He said in its present form there were some unacceptable components, "but I support the concept 100 per cent about the licensing of teachers. It's how we do it, and we must look at some of the best practices and find the one that is best for the Jamaican situation."