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'Proceed until apprehended' - JTA tells teachers ignore education ministry's master book list

Published:Thursday | June 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM
JTA President Mark Nicely.

Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter

The Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) has instructed the nation's teachers to disregard the Ministry of Education's master book list, continue operating as they have been, and if they are sanctioned by the ministry, the JTA would defend them.

"My recommendation, frankly, is that you are to proceed until you are apprehended, and when you are apprehended, the Jamaica Teachers' Association will be there to treat with the matter," Dr Mark Nicely, president of the JTA, told the gathering at the Kingston chapter of the association's general meeting.

Fielding questions from teachers yesterday about the ministry's recent policy to develop a master book list for all public schools, at the JTA headquarters in Kingston, Nicely said teachers were the experts and they should do what they believe is best for the students in their classrooms.

EASE BURDEN

Last month, the education ministry began issuing a master list of supplementary textbooks for grades one to nine. The move came after Education Minister Ronald Thwaites called on schools to ease the burden on parents and only require them to buy the books approved by the ministry. However, the educators say the master book list would hamper their ability to recommend texts as the need may arise. They say they must be given the latitude to propose the books they feel would improve the performance of students. Nicely said the JTA's position on the ministry's recommendation was that "it believes in the professional integrity, judgment and autonomy of the educators." He added that the wisdom of the teachers was greater than that in the ministry's office, and the teachers should rely on their own expertise.

GREATER DIALOGUE WITH PARENTS

Doran Dixon, JTA's president-elect, said teachers should have greater dialogue with parents, as their concerns about the hefty price tags attached to books, which sometimes are never used, were not unwarranted. "I suspect part of the ministry's response to this issue is because parents have been clamouring about the fact that they get a book list, buy the books and far too often they have books that are untouched," Dixon posited. However, he said this does not give the ministry the right to bar teachers from recommending texts as they see fit.