New JTA head says JTC Bill a ‘noose around teachers’ necks’

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Newly minted president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association La Sonja Harrison says several factors causing the exodus of teachers from the classroom are further compounded by the Jamaica Teaching Council (JTC) Bill, which she called a “noose around teachers’ necks”.

“The JTC Bill, in its current state, continues to plague us,” the newly installed JTA president said as she demanded that the make-up of members of the JTC should comprise 75 per cent teachers.

“We will say, with no apologies, nothing for us without us! Like so many other jurisdictions, except in a few cases such as Nigeria, the licensing body constitutes majority teachers. We continue to demand that 75 per cent or more of the board/council should comprise teachers. That translates into approximately 17 of the 23,” she said.

“Also, if we want to truly emancipate education of some of its negative colonial legacies, let the minister — who has no intention to manipulate the workings of the board — allow members at its first convened meeting to choose a chairman from among themselves.”

She accused the Government of intending to use the JTC Bill as a platform to, among other things, “overreach and be punitive”.

“To conclude for now the matter of this egregious Bill, in its current form, ponder the following: If the Government’s intention is not to overreach and be punitive, should registration not be their focus while leaving the matter of licensing practitioners to a group of professional peers? Of course they are the best ones to determine competence and guide, where necessary, the crafting and monitoring of professional growth plans,” she contended.

“Do ‘non-lawyers’ assess and approve lawyers? Do ‘non-doctors’ determine who practise as doctors? Why in heaven’s name do we insist as a country to tell educators how to practise our craft? Yet we say this Bill is to professionalise the profession. Revision of this is yet to reveal elements of how that will truly be done!”

The JTC Bill seeks to recognise and promote teaching as a profession and to contribute to improving the quality of teaching and learning in Jamaica by regulating the entry and standing of teachers.

Harrison was delivering her inaugural speech during the investiture ceremony at the JTA’s 58th Annual Conference at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in St James Monday night.

Harrison took over the helm of the JTA from Winston Smith.

Generated by Feedzy