The amount of teachers getting up and leaving their local placements for what they view as better opportunities for themselves and their dependents is a stressful, shocking and really unfortunate issue for the leaders of educational institutions to deal with.
The issue for me is not about persons looking for greener pastures and better income to take care of their families, since everyone surely has that right. The burning issue is the illegal way in which it is being done in so many instances without consequences. Brazen violation of the lawful requirement to give proper notice continues unabated without any implications for the guilty teachers. Many of my colleagues who are school leaders, have reported on ‘resignations with immediate effect’ which have occurred over the last couple of days.
These are not only illegal acts, but it is also turning out to be a massive betrayal of the children of the nation. I do wish for the JTA to step out as responsible leaders, and condemn this type of behaviour in more stronger terms. The JTA’s instructions to its guilty members who contribute to this problem have been, so far, a bit sugar-coated, very disappointing and way too weak.
I also hope that the authorities will find ways to curb this illegal behaviour.
I would like to suggest the following:
- Teachers licenses should be subject to lawful behaviour just like the other licenses in Jamaica. A driver’s license or banker’s license in Jamaica could be suspended or totally taken away, based on the severity of breaches or illegal behaviour. Teachers should come under the same governance just like everyone else. The same license that qualifies teachers for an overseas job should be governed in a way to benefits the children of Jamaica to.
- Government should ensure that the teachers who are leaving private institutions to occupy spaces in public schools do present evidence of having given proper notice to their bosses at the private schools, otherwise, the government will not be in a position to complain or to act, when public school teachers do the same in leaving to taking up overseas positions. Members of the Jamaica Independent Schools Association have been hurting very badly over the years because of the overnight departure of many of our teachers to public schools.
- In light of this crisis, it is my personal belief that common sense should be applied, and the move to have only licensed teachers engaged by schools should be put on pause for now. We have no other choice in this crisis but to lean on our untrained teachers, and once they are getting the job done, we should not bother them about getting licensed. As the saying goes, if it is not broken, don’t fix it. Once a school is meeting the educational standards of educating the children, and they are doing well in the national exit exams, etc., then why bother them about licensing successful untrained staff? One of my daughters has been an untrained teacher for the past two years, and so far, at least 98 per cent of her students have been successful at the national exams. Should we bother someone like her?
A final word to the teachers, God is watching your treatment and the level of respect which you are showing to the Jamaican children. If you are found guilty, mark my word, you will not go unpunished.
Pastor Wesley Boynes is the President of the Jamaica Independent Schools Association.