Sun | Oct 1, 2023

JTA’s conduct is unbecoming

Published:Monday | May 29, 2023 | 12:16 AM


Last week, my daughter, who is currently taking her Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate exams, lost two days of learning because the teachers’ union called for a strike. Jamaicans are under the illusion that the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) is a body concerned with the development of the education system. After last week’s strike, it seems that the JTA is nothing more than a union, looking out wholly and solely for the interests of teachers.

Like most Jamaicans, I was shocked to learn that the JTA president supported industrial action against the Government for what she described as “discrepancies and anomalies” in the recent compensation review. A few weeks ago, my son complained that his teacher has been missing classes and the principal has done nothing about it. I spoke with the principal, and he told me point-blank that teachers are doing their side hustles to survive. While I will always be sympathetic to teachers, something is seriously wrong with the JTA and the teaching profession generally, and it is our children who pay the price for the unbecoming conduct by the teacher’s union.

The leadership of the JTA leaves much to be desired. I hope that the Ministry of Education deducts money from the salaries of those teachers who participated in the strike. As a parent, I hope the Parliament passes legislation to regulate the teaching profession.

At my daughter’s school, the principal encouraged the teachers to turn up to work, while at my son’s school, teachers were encouraged to strike by the principal. It should be clear that the principals, who are primarily school managers, have a duty to their employers, the Government of Jamaica, to keep the school operational. A principal leading strike action is a conflict of roles, which erodes their moral authority.

It is obvious that the JTA has used the public discord over politician’s salary increases to reopen their salary dispute with the Government. As a parent, I believe that accountability in teaching is just as needed as our politicians being held to account. As far as I can see, the JTA is against accountability for teachers, and this last strike action was unnecessary and seems to have undertones of political motivation.

In all the mumbling of the teachers, they have omitted to say that they account for one of the largest share of the government wage bill. In some instances, the classroom teachers’ pay have almost doubled. With the increases they have had, it is now time to demand greater productivity from our teachers. Of course, you may never hear the JTA say anything in support of that.