Samuda promises to work with teachers' schedules

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer writer

Monday, August 26, 2019

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ROSE HALL, St James — Minister with responsibility for education, youth and information Karl Samuda has assured the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) that meetings and seminars arranged by the ministry that clash with events of the JTA will be a thing of the past.

Samuda gave the assurance during the recently concluded Jamaica Teachers' Association 55th Annual General Conference held at Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in St James.

The conference was held under the theme, 'Empowering educators: Retooling, innovating, networking for sustainable development'.

“Your appeal on behalf of the teachers, who from time to time have to cancel JTA functions where there is a clash of events convened by the ministry demanding your attention, will now be a thing of the past,” said Samuda to a round of applause from educators present at the conference.

“Dr [Grace] McLean [acting permanent secretary] has committed to ensuring that the scheduling of events is shared with the JTA well in advance to avoid any possible clashes in the future.”

The minister's promise was a direct response to calls made by newly-installed president of the JTA Owen Speid during his presidential speech, for the discontinuation of such practice.

Speid had suggested that professional development should not come across as oppressive and as such teachers should strive to discontinue having holiday workshops.

“I am saying to you my colleagues, straight to you, and in the presence of everyone here, that we should strive to discontinue having holiday workshops, because there are options and some of these we will discuss when we get a chance to sit down and discuss them,” stated Speid.

Speid said in some disturbing cases, principals, education officers and the ministry are eager to put on workshops, even on teachers' family fun days.

“Teachers, you have a choice, and I am saying it loud and clear that you should not apologise for the break that you get in the summer time, because many people out there in other sectors get more holidays than we get, they get two days off every single week.

“We are perhaps the only profession where they sometimes deny us our leave when we apply for it. In fact, in other places of work they literally beg you to take the leave at the end of each year,” Speid argued.

“Colleagues, therefore, you should not be apologetic about the breaks that you get. Take them, go and rejuvenate yourself, because only fresh minds can teach critical thinking skills,” he added, in an indirect reference to the controversial Primary Exit Profile, which places increased emphasis on critical thinking and communication skills.


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