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Majority of early-childhood teachers undertrained - study

Published:Monday | April 23, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter

ONLY TWENTY-FIVE per cent of teachers at the early-childhood level possess a diploma or bachelor's degree.

Chairman of the Early Childhood Commission, Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan, recently revealed the figures to The Gleaner in an interview, saying the basic schools are the ones suffering most from the critical shortage.

"The problem with that 25 per cent of trained teachers is that they are mostly concentrated in the private preparatory schools or the Government infant schools and departments," Samms-Vaughan said.

"We have more than 2,600 institutions, and with the concentration in those schools the basic schools would be the schools that are most in need of trained teachers and, in particular, the schools in the socio-economically deprived areas. So, we really need to have a greater investment in trained teachers," she said.

Chairman of the Early Childhood /Special Education Committee at the Jamaica Teachers' Association, Dr Polly Bowes-Howell, said fewer persons opted to take up positions at the level due to the workload and the unattractive remuneration.

She said it is an area of concern given the importance of the sector, but teachers are reluctant to take up the jobs as there is little opportunity for growth.

"The job description given to the teachers is not clear, we actually saw three different copies of what the job description should look like and also the trained teachers in the system did not see this as a path for upward mobility.

"When the teachers get into the basic schools they expected them to be resource persons, involved in training of other colleagues on staff and mark lesson plans, and the teachers pointed out that if they were in the regular system with that kind of responsibility they would be awarded what is called post of responsibility. And not all the trained teachers are being able to get that kind of promotion or support when they take up the jobs in the basic schools," she argued.


Dr Bowes-Howell added that the vacant spots in the schools is worrying when hundreds of students who pursue early-childhood education graduated from teachers' college yearly.

Samms-Vaughan said, however, it is not just a concern relative to Jamaica as traditionally teachers who are working at the pre-school level throughout the world are less paid than teachers who are working at the primary and secondary level.