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JTA calls on Gov't to make research funds available

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer writer
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, April 25, 2019

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ROSE HALL, St James — Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) President Dr Garth Anderson is calling on the Government to honour a promise made to provide $2 million to every teachers' college to facilitate research.

“I want to appeal to the permanent secretary that the $2 million that we negotiated per college to support research, that it is time now that we have the colleges receiving that fund. I think we are demonstrating that we are serious about research and how we can use that to improve our practice,” Dr Anderson said.

The JTA president, who was addressing the association's 18th annual education conference at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in St James on Tuesday, did not elaborate.

The three-day conference is being held under the theme: “Gender and the Teaching Profession: Implications for Teaching and Learning”.

Dr Anderson further told the conference, which will come to an end today, that despite the importance of education, not much attention has been given to gender issues among teachers and its implications for teaching and learning.

“If you ask me, we tend to shy away from the discussion. It is my hope that this conference will allow us to frankly debate these issues with the view of gaining greater insight, and influence policies and curricular changes and access in teacher education related to gender equality and equity among members of the teaching profession,” Dr Anderson stated.

A 2010 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) report presented by Dr Anderson to the educators on Tuesday, which covers the year 2007, indicates that in Jamaica, 89 per cent females and 11 per cent males made up the teaching core at the primary level. At the secondary level, the composition was 69 per cent females and 31 per cent males.

The same report indicated that in Latin America and the Caribbean, the primary level was made up of 78 per cent females and 22 per cent males, while at the secondary level, females made up 60 per cent and males comprised 40 per cent of the teaching core.

North America, Western Europe and Central Asia also showed a large disparity, with females dominating the teaching system.

Teachers' Colleges of Jamaica acting dean, Howard Isaacs, who is also a former president of the JTA, during his presentation, thanked the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information for making the post of research officers in all eight teachers' colleges across the island available.

He further emphasised that “the journey has started, but it is not yet complete...”

Meanwhile, acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, Dr Grace McLean, told the gathering that with ample researches available the country is currently at a level where a serious look can be taken to make policy decisions which will create equal opportunities for all children.

“One of your past presidents, Professor Errol Miller, has an extensive body of work which points to specific social constructs and historical factors that may have led to the reasons we look at girls differently in relation to boys,” stated Dr McLean.

“I believe, however, ladies and gentlemen, with all the research that would have been conducted, Dr (Leith) Dunn herself would have done a significant body of work at The University of the West Indies, we are now at a place where we can seriously look at gender, with the data available, and take decisions as to how we can ensure equal opportunities for all our children,” Dr McLean added.

The acting permanent secretary further emphasised that the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information will continue to work, through the Jamaica Teaching Council, the National College for Educational Leadership and though its regional network, to ensure that there is a continuous provision of support that is required for children.

“Our mission is to encourage and help educators to continue to explore innovative teaching approaches that will result in making all our boys and our girls productive citizens and provide for themselves and their families,” Dr McLean outlined.

“So let me, on the behalf of our minister, extend sincere congratulations to the Jamaica Teachers' Association for once again coming up with an area that as educators we need to look at, and I am looking forward to the decisions that will be made or will be suggested out of this conference where the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information can take these, reflect on our policies, and make changes, as it would be necessary, for us to be able to continue to impact the lives of our children,” she said.


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