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Golding thrashes sections of draft teaching council bill

Published:Tuesday | March 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Former Prime Minister Bruce Golding speaks at the Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Education Institute's forum on the Jamaica Teaching Council Bill at the Mona Visitors' Lodge and Conference Centre yesterday. - Rudolph Brown/Photographer

Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter

Former Prime Minister Bruce Golding has rubbished sections of the contentious draft Jamaica Teaching Council (JTC) bill, as being burdensome and, in some parts, unclear of its intended purpose.

Addressing a public forum put on by the Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Education Institute yesterday, Golding said while the intentions of the bill, which originated under his tenure, are laudable, care must be taken to not alienate teachers or minimise the objectives of the council.

Pointing to a number of flaws he found with the proposed legislation, Golding said in the first instance, the bill needs to be simplified.

"It is my view that some of the provisions are onerous and cumbersome and the paperwork that they will entail far outweigh whatever benefits that those requirements intended to bring," Golding argued.

He added that when compared to the statutes governing the registration of other professions such as law and medicine, the JTC bill is far larger.

Proposed tests ridiculous

Turning to the sections of the draft bill dealing with the assessment of teachers, Golding said it was ridiculous for the council to be subjecting educators to numeracy and literacy tests.

"I found it somewhat absurd that in the draft bill there is a specific reference to applying test for literacy and numeracy.

"... Quite frankly, if the teaching council has to concern itself with that, then the focus really ought not to be on the bill but on the institution that matriculated that teacher," he continued.

The former prime minister labelled the aspects of the bill that speak to barring teachers because of alleged sexual misconduct as "overkill" and could be offensive to those in the teaching profession.

He said the final bill should shed its "obsession" with sexual miscreants.

Golding noted that the disciplinary functions of the bill were also muddled and infractions and sanctions should be clearly defined.

Golding, who was recently appointed honorary distinguished fellow of the University of the West Indies, also supported the Jamaica Teachers' Association's contention that the governing body of the council should also be reconsidered.

He said there is no compelling need for the financial secretary or the solicitor general to be on the council, and the proposed three representatives from religious denominations should be dropped from the governing body, leaving one.

Golding noted that this would leave more room for members of the teaching profession to be appointed to the council.