Sun | Dec 4, 2022

Tougher penalties proposed for ‘bandooloo’ teachers

Published:Friday | September 30, 2022 | 12:12 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Parliamentary Reporter

Members of a joint select committee reviewing the Jamaica Teaching Council Act, 2022, have agreed with a recommendation from a key education stakeholder that a person masquerading as a teacher should face tougher penalties than a teacher who has not renewed his or her licence under the proposed new legislation.

In its submission to the committee in May this year, the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) argued strongly that teaching without a licence or pretending to have a licence should not be treated equally to someone who acts fraudulently.

Clause 24 of the proposed statute states that a person shall not practise as a teacher unless the individual is a licensed teacher or an instructor. A person who contravenes the law commits an offence and is liable, on conviction in a parish court, to a fine not exceeding $500,000.

The committee on Thursday postponed a decision on the fine for breaching Clause 24 until a later meeting.

The JTA had pointed to the Spirit Licence Act, noting that this law imposes a higher penalty where a person uses fraud as opposed to merely operating without a licence.

Committee member Senator Lambert Brown told his colleague lawmakers that a “bandooloo” teacher should not receive the same punishment as an educator whose licence has expired.

Manchester Central Member of Parliament (MP) Rhoda Crawford cautioned against criminalising a teacher who does not renew his licence within the time stipulated by law.

Senator Kavan Gayle, another committee member, agreed with Crawford’s position, suggesting that an administrative penalty should instead be applied.

However, Floyd Green, MP for St Elizabeth South Western, cautioned his fellow lawmakers about removing a penalty for teachers who breach the provision of teaching without a valid licence.

He reminded members of the committee that there was no grace period for someone whose driver’s licence has expired, indicating that such a person could be prosecuted for driving without a valid licence.

When it appeared before the committee in May this year, the JTA contended that the legislation proposed no penalty for an employer who hired a person who is not a registered or licensed teacher or instructor.

Commenting on this observation, Gayle said that an employer had an obligation to ensure that the teacher who is being employed is licensed.

Senator Natalie Campbell-Rodriques is of the view that an employer who allows an unlicensed teacher to teach in an educational institution should face a more stringent penalty.

However, Brown said that for the purposes of applying sanctions, it would be important to first identify who is the employer.

The technical team working with the committee said that in the case of a public school, the employer would be the board of management.

With that response, Brown further queried who would be held culpable, citing the chairman, the board members, or a subcommittee of the board.