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Teaching still attractive

TCJ says profession a viable career option for young people to realise their dreams

BY RENAE DIXON Observer staff reporter dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, June 17, 2013    

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OCHO RIOS, St Ann — The Council of Teachers' Colleges of Jamaica (TCJ) says teaching remains an attractive profession and that the colleges do not expect to have a smaller intake of students this year.

Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites said recently that Government would not be employing new teachers this year, drawing condemnation from the Jamaica Teachers' Association.

Dean of the TCJ and principal of the Bethlehem Moravian College, Yvonne Clarke, said the TCJ is "confident that teaching will remain a viable career option for young people to realise their many dreams and aspirations".

Clarke was speaking at a press conference last Friday at the Jewel Resort, Runaway Bay, where the Council of Teachers' Colleges met for a three-day retreat.

She added that the administrators of the TCJ were satisfied and in full support of the statement by Education Minister Ronald Thwaites last Tuesday, in which he expressed his full support for the colleges and pledged to take all necessary steps to ensure the institutions' viability in spite of economic constraints.

The council said that coming out of the meeting with the minister, and based on the outcome of its three-day retreat, it would be more strategic in its approaches to ensure the relevance of programmes in teachers' colleges.

Among the plans of the colleges is to continue the training of teachers to replace the approximately 2,400 retirees that are due to leave the system over the next four years.

The council also expects that as countries recover from the economic crisis many now face, opportunities for teachers will reopen. "There is data available which indicates that 144 countries are in short supply of teachers and we are prepared to supply that demand," Clarke said.

Special focus will also be placed on early childhood education, mathematics, science, information technology and special education, she added.

She said, too, that in collaboration with the Ministry of Education three special education testing units are expected to be set up at the Sam Sharp Teachers' College, College of Agriculture Science and Education (CASE) and the Church Teachers' College in September.

Dr Asburn Pinnock, principal of the Sam Sharpe Teachers' College, said research has shown that at least one special educator is needed in each school, and he has encouraged persons to consider that option. He also encouraged in-service teachers to get trained in special education as well.

And as part of the new approaches, the multidisciplinary colleges will also increase their intake in emerging areas of need.

Rev Dr Mary Nichols, interim president at CASE, said the institution would be strengthening its programmes as it seeks to address the high levels of food importation.

In the meantime, Clarke said the colleges would also be "pressing ahead with the mandate given by the ministry to upgrade the approximately 14,000 in-service teachers from diploma status to Bachelor's degree by 2016".

The TCJ is made up of eight teachers' colleges — Moneague College, College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE), Sam Sharpe Teachers' College, Bethlehem Moravian College, GC Foster College, Shortwood Teachers' College, St Joseph's Teachers' College and Churches Teachers' College.

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