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Change needed in JTA leadership structure - Educate Jamaica

Published:Sunday | January 24, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Education think tank, Educate Jamaica, has called for changes to be made to the leadership structure of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA).

"Each organisation endeavours to have its own unique identity and structure, however, if such an identity and structure is not fit for purpose, then it needs to be reviewed and in this case, the current structure of the leadership of the JTA is not fit for purpose," Ainsworth Darby, chief executive of Educate Jamaica told The Gleaner.

Darby has argued that the practice of having the immediate past president, current president and elected president share management of the teachers' union is a restrictive one.

According to Darby, "The person who is nominated in 2016 will be elected on issues teachers are currently facing. The issues of 2016 may not and, almost two years later, should not be the issues of the time. So to take office almost two years later to deal with issues, for which you may not have the experience, would render the person incompetent for the role."

"There is no question that the JTA's leadership structure is flawed, and if the JTA argues otherwise, is further evidence of how out of touch they are with reality," he said.

The think tank, which publishes annual Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination rankings, has charged that the JTA has failed to keep up with the changing times of teaching and education, adding that the union has failed to recognise and meet the needs of its teachers.

"I have spoken to many teachers who believe the JTA has somewhat lost its direction, relevance and its purposefulness. They have argued that it's only during wage-negotiations time that they feel or see the presence of the JTA," Darby said.

Ruel Reid, principal of Jamaica College, a former JTA president, has, however, argued that the JTA is one of the most effective unions, and there is no need for reform to the leadership structure of the JTA apart from extending the tenure of the presidency.

"The only change I would propose is for each president to serve for two years instead of one. One year is not enough time to carry out any meaningful changes or projects," Reid said.

Reid argued that the JTA, overall, represents teachers well, but called on the union to be more strident in holding all governments accountable for good governance and accountability.