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JTA urges Gov’t to keep its promises to teacher

Monday, January 06, 2014    

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PRESIDENT of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) Mark Nicely is urging Government to keep the many promises made to the nation's teachers, some of which they are expecting will materialise come March.

Nicely, in a national broadcast slated to be aired yesterday, pointed out that the promises were too much in number to list, but urged Government to bear in mind the three that are due in March of this year.

"We were promised that teachers owed 50 per cent refund up to August of last year would be paid in March of this year. We were promised that the matter concerning the approximately $1 billion owed to the nation's teachers would be settled by March this year," Nicely noted. "We were promised that two social workers would be assigned to each regional office by March of this year."

Credibility of any Government, he said, is critical as this will determine the amount of trust and confidence that are placed in them.

"It is for that reason why promises made should be promises kept, " he inisted.

The JTA head, however, lauded the Government for its efforts in respect of the reform of the public sector pension scheme.

"We have noted that a White Paper on pension reform was tabled in December 2013 to be implemented in April 2016, and we wish to signal our appreciation to Minister Horace Dalley and Government as a whole for the proactive approach taken," he said.

In addition, Nicely said that a special committee will be established to assess the document before the association speaks further on the issue.

As it relates to the problem faced by the association with the discovery of multimillion-dollar fraudulent activities at the organisation last year, Nicely said that the JTA has started too see improvements in its internal control and financial management from measures that were implemented.

"New and improved systems and structures have been put in place, some sensitive aspects of the financial operations have been outsourced and our current financial statements show a great degree of health proving that many of the initiatives implemented have borne fruit," he said.

Nicely said the association has contracted PricewaterhouseCoopers to carry out a five-year forensic audit on a phased basis, and that the first report is expected by the end of March.

In the meantime, he announced that the association will be embarking on year-long celebration to mark JTA's 50th anniversary in April.

The celebration, which will commence with a national church service at the Boulevard Baptist Church on March 30, will include a banquet for all past presidents, a lecture, the awarding of 50 academic scholarships, a special awards function for 50 contact teachers islandwide and an evening of excellence performances with teachers and students.

Besides, the year-long celebration, Nicely said the JTA will have the official opening of its brand new $36 million office in Fairview, Montego Bay, in St James, which is a major mandate of the president's programme and which will be of significant benefit to teachers in Trelawny, Hanover, Westmoreland, and St James.

"Colleagues as we enter our time of celebrations, let us show even greater commitment to the welfare of our nation's children. Let us attend to their needs recognising section 44 of the code of regulations, item 2, which states that, in addition to regular teaching activities, a teacher's duties shall include the fostering of students' development on the personal and social levels," he urged the teachers.

"Let us exert the effort to advance quality education in Jamaica and let us ensure also that individually and collectively we give of our best in service to our fellow human being," Nicely added.

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