ADJUSTMENTS are being proposed to the Jamaica Teaching Council Bill to make a distinction between teacher registration and licensing, and to make clear that the proposed one-year allowance to enable teachers to obtain their licences applies to those who are already in the system.
The proposed changes to clauses 80, 81 and 82, when ironed out by the committee’s legal team, will clarify registration and licensing requirements for new entrants.
The discussion around the processes and the need for clarity arose at Thursday’s meeting of the joint select committee, which is now deciding on the adoption of recommendations, observations and concerns put forward by the various stakeholder groups over months.
Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Foreman noted that the process of registration is separate from licensing, and that the Bill would have to be tweaked, given that clause 24 prohibits the practice of teaching or working as an instructor unless a person is licensed.
“The intention is to ensure that teachers who are already in the system continue to be able to teach, [clause] 82 perhaps should be tweaked to say registered and licensed, or some other language that would indicate that they can continue to operate until a specific period of time,” he said.
Government member of the committee and Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth South West Floyd Green pointed out that simply being registered will no longer provide a basis for teaching once the JTC Bill comes into force.
“The question is, yes, they are all now registered to teach, but can they turn up to teach if they’re not licensed or authorised to teach? It has to be clearly indicated that for that year in which they will have to make their arrangements, that they are already authorised to teach or something of the sort,” said Green.
He noted that the current proposed law does not indicate that registration does not give teachers already in the system the automatic authority to teach, and that it needs to be clear how these persons will be allowed to operate.
The clauses under discussion address the continuation of tenure for teachers who are now registered under the Education Act as a trained teacher or an authorised teacher; and the registration of persons not currently registered by the appointed day of the law. The suggestion is for the provisions to be amended to address the licensing of teachers who are already in the system, and the registration and licensing of teachers who are incoming at the time when the law takes effect.
— Alphea Sumner