JAM | May 31, 2023

Parents’ Alliance appeals for academic stability in exam months

/ Our Today

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Casey-Ann Smith, a social studies teacher at the Mico Practising Primary and Junior High in St Andrew engages students in a grade-four civics class on May 1, 2023. (Photo: JIS)

Parents’ Alliance Jamaica has appealed to the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) for stability across the education sector during what it calls “the most critical weeks of the academic year”.

Alliance chairman, Bishop Herro Blair, is anticipating that cordial negotiations between the Finance Ministry and the JTA resume soon.

According to a statement to the media, the alliances’ members are hopeful that schools will not be disrupted in June, and wrote to the JTA to underscore that sentiment.

In a letter to JTA president La Sonja Harrison, Bishop Blair said, “Our association of concerned parents wants a strong friendship with the JTA, and urges teachers not to take disruptive actions that could negatively affect serious exams and other life changing events for children”.

“While we support teachers’ struggle for a better pay deal, we urge you to reconsider your timing, and to seek renewed dialogue with the Finance Minister Nigel Clarke,” Blair mused, adding, “Parliamentarians should understand the principles of justice and fair play, and that many Jamaicans will never forgive them if teachers are treated unfairly.”

“We have witnessed a pay hike for parliamentarians, who hastily corrected anomalies in their own salaries in order to maintain pegging with their permanent secretaries”, Bishop Blair outlined. “We therefore fully expect them to address similar anomalies affecting payments to teachers and other public servants, and to correct the disparities that would have been worsened by the political directorates’ new salary scale”.

The Parents’ Alliance’s chairman indicated that members wish for another month of patience from the disgruntled educators, while the finance minister is given time to find a fair pay formula to satisfy all brackets of public sector workers.

“Clarke’s colleagues are not his constituents, but a formula has been applied to satisfy their salary concerns. Therefore, we fully expect him to apply fairer pay formulas for his constituent teachers, police officers and other public servants,”

The alliance’s letter to the JTA president pleaded with her association to consider the arguments it has raised and to renegotiate with Finance Minister Clarke over the month of June.

“Dr. Clarke has demonstrated an understanding of fair play where his parliamentary colleagues are considered”, the alliance said, adding, “Please allow the finance minister some time to find a formula that works for teachers, who are among the most valuable cornerstones of every advanced society.

Concluding, the alliance was cognizant of the recent decision to increase government officials’ salaries while denying the same right to teachers and other civil servants has angered and disappointed those in the education sector.

Parents’ Alliance Jamaica underscored that another strike “would affect students’ academic achievement as they get closer to their exams. Teachers must practice patience and engage in productive communication with the Ministry of Finance rather than turning to strike action.”


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