Tue | Mar 28, 2023

Application process to address ‘bad eggs’ in teacher-licensing regime

Published:Friday | January 27, 2023 | 12:41 AM
Jamaica Teaching Council CEO Dr Winsome Gordon.
Jamaica Teaching Council CEO Dr Winsome Gordon.

Once the Jamaica Teaching Council Act comes into effect, registered teachers will be required to apply for a licence to teach within a 12-month period.

But the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech) has questioned whether the suggested de facto registration and normalisation of status takes into account the “bad eggs” in the profession.

“Is it assumed that all teachers currently working in the education system meet the fit and proper criteria and qualify for licensing?” the university submitted in part to the joint select committee reviewing the bill.

In response, the legal team said the requirements for application licensing will assist with treating such persons.

Jamaica Teaching Council CEO Dr Winsome Gordon said, in order to be licensed, educators will have to present appraisals, among other documents.

“That will give an opportunity for the profession to address those teachers who might be underperforming for a sustained period … . That’s an important document because the licence is about the practice of the teacher, but other qualifications and so on will have to be presented at the time of licensing, especially the first licence to be granted,” Gordon said during a hybrid meeting of the committee on Thursday.

UTech also queried what level of support would be provided to teachers who are already practising in the education system for them to meet the requirements for licensing, and whether there would be a period of transition to meet the new standards.

Education Minister Fayval Williams, who is chairing the committee, said teachers who do not meet the requirements for licensing could be given an authorisation to teach.

Further, Gordon said there are a number of technical and vocational teachers who may not satisfy the requirements for the licence.

“Most teachers will, because, now, a first degree is the requirement for entering the profession. They will meet the criteria for licensing, except in situations where there is evidence that the teacher’s practice is not up to standard,” she explained.

The requirement of a first degree was introduced in 2011.

Committee member Kavan Gayle asked if there was a time frame in which vocational teachers who are given an authorisation to teach must matriculate.

In response, Gordon said the authorisation would be renewed every two years.

“There are only two renewals for the authorisation to teach. So, after four years, the person should have acquired some form of qualification – suitable qualification – for the teaching profession,”she said, adding that those terms will be clearly laid out in the authorisation document.

Meanwhile, the committee on Thursday agreed to postpone its decision on the time period in which school boards have to consider a matter against an educator in Clause 51.

Jeffrey Foreman of the Attorney General’s Chambers requested time to review, on the basis that the team did not have the opportunity to fully go through the document submitted by the ministry’s technical team prior to the meeting.

He also reasoned that there are significant departures from what he understood to be the initial policy.