JAMAICAN teachers now have an added stress to their list of stresses; this is the proposed licensing of teachers. The Jamaica Teaching Council which has been created by the Education Minister is on a drive to have all Jamaican teachers licensed. Some consultants, contracted by the Ministry of Education, believe that licensing of teachers will achieve levels of performance that we all desire our children to achieve more. At a recent teachers' meeting it was announced that the proposed Bill is being discussed and may soon become an Act that will have all our nation's teachers to be licensed every five years; that may come at a cost to the teacher. Currently, most of our teaches are certified.
However, while I agree that teachers must be held accountable, I also believe that certain educational interventions must first be made. Here are some such as, (a) better selection process of prospective educators at the teachers' colleges, (b) regular and relevant workshops for teachers who seem not to function well with the students selected to be taught, (c) workshops and updates with parents on their children's performance, (d) improving the working conditions and facilities of teachers, (e) sensible remuneration of teachers, and (f) intervention by way of the administration and education Officers to assist teachers who are experiencing pedagogical difficulties.
Now teachers who are truly strapped for cash after upgrading themselves, educating their own families, having various loan repayments, may have to pay for licensing themselves.
The Ministries of Education of our Caribbean neighbours use teacher certification, not licensing, and injected funds into educational innovations and allowed teachers to put their best practices to print so that other educators could glean and utilise approaches and information relevant to their content area and emphasis. They also improved on the resources available for students' advancement.
Yes, we know that locally several educators at the primary levels have written good text books on integration and discrete subjects, but has the ministry been seriously assisting more of our secondary teachers to write? Will there be scope for mobility if the licensed qualified primary school teacher wants to teach at the secondary level? Can you imagine, after 30 years of teaching, being the bread winner of the family, a teacher can be sent home?
It would be sad if the powers that be begin to act like the Wild West, building the gallows for any "Pre-Colonial Hangman" to pull the lever on the teachers to fall through trap doors, after his JTC Sheriff places the noose over the teachers' necks without a fair trial.
All this to be performed before the jeering crowd of public opinions while the consulting morticians await the removal of the carcasses and bury them in the cemetery called Dedication. I hope this is not where MOE and JTC are heading! Which prospective licensed teacher would want to have this fate?
What a stress!