CNW- The Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) has welcomed the Ministry of Education’s decision to allow school boards to hire retired educators to fill vacancies in understaffed institutions.
This comes after Jamaica’s Minister of Education Fayval Williams said 167 teachers have migrated resigning from their employment in the local school system in the last two months.
The Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) warned the country to brace itself for a teacher exodus this year, citing over 400 teachers who have already departed the island for lucrative job possibilities in the United States.
At a press conference on Monday Williams explained the grim reality ahead of the new school year. “Of course, we are still getting information from our school principals and so this number (167) could change as we move towards the end of August and into September. The new school year begins on the 5th of September and even up to that time there may be resignations,” Williams said.
However, Winston Smith, the outgoing president of the 25,000-member union, said the situation called for caution, while speaking at JTA’s 58th annual conference at the Hilton Rose Hall Hotel in Montego Bay, St James.
“That has its share of challenges. Yes, we need help, and I would not say no. Yes, the situation may be that we have to call them back in and if that must be done, though we are very cautious about it,” he said.
He also mentioned that, although the teachers had been out of the classroom for some time, there were lame ducks. However, he noted that they would have to adjust to the present era.
“What we would say, having now recognized that we are in a crisis or a challenging situation, each retired teacher would have to make a determination for themselves,” said the Jamaica Teachers’ Association president.
He also remarked that, while the school system will gain from the experience of retired teachers, the current situation provides an opportunity for people who were not initially interested in the field to enter as pre-trained teachers.
Smith was responding to queries after Education Minister Fayval Williams announced that the ministry will allow schools to re-engage teachers who had retired since January 2018 on a part-time basis, as concerns about high attrition rates ahead of the new school year.
In addition to recruiting retired teachers, the minister revealed that 964 specialist teachers, who have just completed their studies, are now available for employment in the national school system.