Bachelor’s barrier could cause crisis at ECIs, warns Brown Burke
Opposition Spokesperson on Education, Angela Brown Burke, is calling on the Government to introduce more tangible solutions to helping teachers meet qualification requirements stipulated in the Jamaica Teaching Council bill.
Her recommendation comes on the heels of a recent joint select committee meeting, where Jamaica Teachers’ Association President Winston Smith noted the dangers to the teaching profession if most of the current teachers, without a bachelor’s degree, as required, will not be registered as teachers.
The bill defines a teacher as a person, who, having been admitted to an educational teaching programme duly recognised in the country in which the person is qualified, has successfully completed a bachelor’s degree in education or its equivalent, or alternatively, a first degree with a postgraduate diploma in education and thereby satisfies the qualifications to be registered as a teacher under this act.
“We don’t have a problem with that; we actually agree with that [qualification] because we are lifting standards. Where the problem lies is that we need a transition that understands or cultural reality,” Brown Burke stated.
Though the bill gives teachers who fall below the requirement scale a year to begin the process of seeking advanced studies, Brown Burke indicated that more consideration ought to be made for those seeking qualifications and those who have acquired it.
“Many of our teachers and caregivers in the early childhood sector, who go and borrow and find ways of improving their professional standards, end up having to leave because Government only paying one teacher per class. Therefore, if you are not the one and you are qualified, it means the money you get can’t do more than so, it can barely put food on your table,” she said.
Speaking at the People’s National Party Divisional Conference in Mandeville on Sunday, Brown Burke said support, in the form of a programme with a subsidy, needs to be introduced.
“If they are not allowed to teach we are going to have a a big gap anyway because it means they won’t be there. Who will be there ? What will that mean for our children who are in school?” she questioned.
During the joint select committee review held on May 19, Minister of Education Fayval Williams indicated that Smith’s analysis of the stipulations of the bill could give the wrong impression in the media.
However, Brown Burke said the minister’s focus should be the well-being of those involved and not how it will be publicised.
“What for them is the most important thing is how it is going to be seen, it’s not the fact that we want a healthy, honest conversation that will lead to improving the bill and making sure that our teachers are not at risk.”