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Consultation on JTC Bill extended

Monday, December 02, 2013    

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THE consultation period on the proposed Jamaica Teaching Council Bill has been extended beyond this calendar year, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites has said.

He made the announcement today last Thursday at the Carlong Publishers (Caribbean) Limited's Teachers' Appreciation Luncheon at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.

The minister said the decision to extend the talks came out of a meeting held between the Ministry and the leadership of the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA) last Tuesday. Consultations were initially scheduled to end on December 31.

He noted that the National Council on Education, which is the chief advisory body on educational policy, will now co-ordinate the public consultations and come up with a final draft of the Bill.

The Jamaica Teaching Council Bill, which is in draft form, seeks to provide for the establishment of a governing body for the teaching profession, and institute a regime for the licensing and registration of all government paid teachers.

It also gives legal powers to the Council to immediately suspend and cancel the registration of a teacher, who is charged for what is deemed a disqualifiable offence, which includes sexual offences, murder, pornography, robbery, and fraud. The body will also seek to encourage excellence and to improve marginal performance wherever it exists.

While there has been extensive consultation, dating back to 2010, and involving a number of stakeholders including the JTA, the Minister has recognized the need for further discussions before the Government embarks on any move to institute the proposed legislation.

Though expressing the hope that the process will be wrapped up within the next several months, the Minister noted that "it is better to wait and get a good law than to hurry and have a bad law".

"We, at the ministry, look forward to the eventual enactment of legislation that will set appropriate professional standards for teachers that will redound to their benefit and the benefit of those who fall under their purview and for the whole nation," he said.

In the meantime, Minister Thwaites congratulated the 70 teachers being awarded for distinguished service, thanking them for "continuing the task that you have undertaken to give your lives, to give yourselves for the upliftment of our children".

He praised the contribution of Carlong Publishers to the development of education, particularly through the production and distribution of books and other educational material. "They are true partners in the education process," he said.

According to Carlong Publishers' Managing Director Shirley Carby, since 2010, the company has sought to encourage and recognise excellence in the teaching profession through annual awards to primary and secondary level teachers across the country.

"We believe that recognition and respect are of the utmost importance if teachers are to have the kind of influence that they need to have in order to successfully shape the values and attitudes of students and to motivate students to discover their talents and abilities and to become skilled productive and patriotic citizens," she stated.

Carlong Publishers partnered with the Jamaica Teaching Council to host the event, which recognised the contribution of teachers from regions one, two, five, and six.

A similar function was held in Montego Bay last week, where 35 teachers from regions three and four were honoured.

— JIS

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