THE National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica (NPTAJ), in taking note of the rate at which Jamaican educators are being wooed by overseas recruiters, has made several suggestions to stem the flow, among them term limits for overseas employment and a quota system.
In a release issued to the media on Monday, the NPTAJ, through its President Stewart Jacobs, listed safety and security, transportation, teacher retention and nutrition as the four key areas for “immediate attention by the authorities to ensure a solid footing for the upcoming academic year”.
According to the NPTAJ while it understands the “overarching reasons influencing” the decisions of teachers to flock to greener pastures, the country is in the meantime left with a “wide gap of teacher/student contact”.
The NPTAJ, in urging the authorities “to move with alacrity in negotiating with our teachers to reconsider leaving in droves”, said to cap the exodus there should be a revisiting of the current remuneration package for teachers, dialogue with the jurisdictions wooing teachers asking them to agree on a quota system or consider term limits for overseas employment. It further suggested that retired teachers be re-engaged for “attractive offerings” as well as a shift to virtual learning to widen student-teacher contact.
In mid-August the education ministry said 427 teachers resigned from the local education sector since January. It said 1,538 teachers resigned between January and September last year. Education minister Fayval Williams in July said there is a 43 per cent reduction in teacher migration this year. In noting that there have been reports and misleading information on social media, Williams emphasised that teachers migrate for personal reasons. Furthermore, in addressing concerns over the number of advertised vacancies in the media, she said not all are permanent positions as some were created because some educators are on leave.
In the meantime, in making the pitch for increased safety and security, the NPTAJ called for further fortification of school perimeter fences. It also said standard protocols should be enforced regarding access to teacher and children during and after the school day and the education of the school population about safety measures and precautions.
The association further reiterated its call for ways to be found to transport children to school minimising their interaction with the general public.
“This has been an active call by the NPTAJ since 2010 and one that now needs urgent attention,” it said in calling for designated buses on routes heavily traversed by students and for special arrangements for students in rural communities.
It also said buses should be retrofitted to accommodate the physically challenged in much the same way that school plants are being revamped.