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Finland official urges better pay for teachers in Jamaica

Published:Sunday | May 17, 2015 | 12:00 AM

A top official in Finland's education ministry is calling for the Jamaican Government to improve salaries and work conditions for teachers.

In an emailed response to The Gleaner, counselor for education in Finland, Armi Mikkola, gave her views on ways in which Jamaica can improve teacher quality and learning outcomes.

"As I see it, the most important goal is to take good care of the status of teaching as an attractive and highly valued profession. Appreciation of the teachers' work and the teaching profession is crucial for the success of the school system and teacher education," she said.

Mikkola went on to address issues of teacher satisfaction.

"Appreciating teacher's work means taking good care of high quality of teacher education and teachers' well-being and satisfaction at work," she explained.

Professional development

She also indicated that a decent salary and professional development are critical ingredients in terms of getting the best outcomes from teachers.

"To appreciate teachers' work is also to see that their work conditions and salary are good and that there are opportunities for updating knowledge and skills in in-service education," she said. "This requires sufficient resources for schools. It also entails schools having competent and inspiring leadership."

Responding to Mikkola's comments, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites said his ministry has been working to build the capacity of teachers.

"While we laud the Finnish education system as the best in the world, the context is different," he said.

Thwaites went on to point out what he said the ministry has been doing to improve teacher quality.

"All the initiatives we have been putting in place are geared towards building teachers' capacity in content delivery as well as leadership. In the latter regard, the work of the National College for Educational Leadership (NCEL) is commendable, as well as the work of the National Education Inspectorate in assessing the performance of schools," he said.

He also indicated that funds saved through efforts to improve efficiency will be used to improve working conditions for teachers.

"We have been trying to make the system more efficient so the funds saved can be used to improve working conditions, provide incentives to teachers and make them more comfortable," he said.