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JTA sticking to guns on master booklist dispute

Published:Tuesday | June 17, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter

The Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) is sticking to its guns that the Ministry of Education should give teachers the independence to choose some textbooks for students as they see fit.

JTA President Dr Mark Nicely told The Gleaner yesterday that the association's issue was not with the ministry's crafting of a master list of supplementary texts, but that this move may limit teachers' flexibility to recommend texts as they see fit.

"Our main concern is that, in addition to the master list, the main practitioners, the educators in the schools across the country, must also be given the latitude to determine if there is a particular text that is not on the master list but is necessary to facilitate the learning of the child," he argued.

He said the JTA understands the position of parents who have been clamouring for a reduction in the number of books they are being asked to purchase, but a master list of supplementary textbooks should act more as a guide for teachers than a mandatory list to follow.

"For us, it was always about professional autonomy," Nicely said, adding that teachers are the ones in the classroom daily and are faced with a myriad of different students; therefore, a list of set textbooks may not always work.

NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT

However, the education ministry has sought to refute Nicely's claim, stating that the JTA had nothing to worry about and "it should get on with the job of educating the nation's children which teachers are sworn to do".

In a statement issued by the ministry, Dr Grace McLean, chief education officer, explained that educators and school administrators were involved in the development of the master list of supplementary texts.

"All the supplementary textbooks that the Ministry of Education placed on the master list resulted from reviewing material that were provided initially by teachers, school administrators, authors and publishers, inclusive of the JTA's publishing arm," the statement read.

The ministry said teachers are allowed to add books to the list if the need should arise, but these must be communicated to the ministry through appropriate channels.

Nicely said while this stance is welcomed, the education ministry should not be seeking to micro-manage schools as teachers may stop using their creativity and stick to only the dictates of the ministry.

jermaine.francis@gleanerjm.com