Tue | Dec 5, 2023

Teaching Council’s CEO wants licences returned upon revocation

Committee reviewing bill convinced safeguards enough to prevent re-employment

Published:Friday | May 5, 2023 | 1:33 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Parliamentary Reporter

A DECISION by a joint select committee of Parliament reviewing the Jamaica Teaching Council (JTC) bill to remove a requirement for a teacher to surrender “every copy” of his or her licence within seven days of revocation has been met with strong resistance from one key stakeholder.

Under the JTC bill, if a teacher refuses to surrender his licence after it has been revoked, the educator could face a fine of $500,000 upon conviction in a parish court. However, this provision has also been struck from the proposed law.

JTC Chief Executive Officer Dr Winsome Gordon, who provides technical advice to the committee, cautioned against changing the provision in law, noting that a physical copy of the revoked licence should be returned to the council.

At Thursday’s meeting of the committee reviewing the JTC Act, 2022, several committee members said that the provision dealing with the surrender of a licence was unnecessary as the proposed law contains a myriad of checks and balances to prevent a teacher whose permit has been rescinded to get a job in the education sector.

But Gordon contended that the licence, which is in the form of an electronic card, should be handed over to the council. She noted that a teacher could use the card to apply for a job in a remote area in the country where the principal of that institution may not have access to the Internet to check if it is valid.

“We assume that Jamaica is fully covered electronically, but this is not entirely true,” Gordon insisted.

“When the teacher goes to ‘Washfoot Gully’ school, for example, and shows his card, the verification is going to take a long time or maybe the poor principal is so glad for a teacher that she might not bother to go and verify it, so let us not create a problem where there doesn’t have to be a problem,” the JTC CEO said.

She questioned: “What is radically wrong with getting the physical copy?”

But Floyd Green, a committee member, said there was no need for someone to return the copy of the licence, noting that enough safeguards are in the law to sanction a person who works as an educator without a permit.

He insisted that schools have a duty to check with the regulatory body before they employ teachers.

“We are saying in that checking process they will be able to ascertain whether the licence has been suspended,” said Green. “I think it is reasonable to put the burden on the schools because it is part of their duty of care.”

Committee member Tova Hamilton questioned whether teachers could enter the classrooms without proper checks being done on whether they are registered and qualified.

“If that is the case, we have a difficulty there,” Hamilton said. “It should not be happening.”

However, Gordon said that many things should not happen, but revealed that there are teachers who “commit certain crimes and they go to other schools far, far away and commit the same thing”.

The committee members pointed out that the proposed JTC bill was intended to address the issue highlighted by Gordon.