Teacher flight raises concerns among parents

Teacher flight raises concerns among parents

Monday, February 17, 2020

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PARENTS of students who attend high schools in St Catherine have expressed concern about the frequency with which their children are left without subject teachers each school year.

The parents told the Jamaica Observer that almost every year their children go extended periods without teachers, which ultimately leads to them lagging behind in their lessons.

One parent said there has never been a year when her child has had a mathematics teacher throughout.

“Every year, at some point in time, my daughter come home to tell me she nah no maths teacher. She is in fourth form now and this a gwaan from she just go a di school,” Simone Wilson-Campbell said. “Sometimes all a month or so will pass before she get a new teacher.

“I can recall her going without an English teacher fi about two months once. Is a every year, or call it say is a every term thing over her school,” the woman said.

Another parent said her son “ever nuh have a teacher”.

“Every minute him tell mi how different teachers come to basically fill in when his original teacher or teachers dem gone,” the parent, who did not wish to be named, said.

Yet another parent, Conroy Thomas, agreed.

“I have one child in first form and the other is in fourth form. Mi nah guh say that is right throughout the year dem nuh have any teacher, but for some subjects it happens a lot. It happen way more than I believe it should. They always get new teachers when that gwaan, but it always tek a little time first,” he shared.

Just recently, president of Jamaica Teachers' Association Owen Speid said that eventually “Jamaica may have to start looking at recruiting teachers from overseas”, and that “the migration patterns of teachers can affect the quality of students being produced by the education sector”.

The Observer also spoke to a teacher who works at the school at which one of the concerned parent's child attends.

“It is true that teachers resign right throughout the year. Sometimes these teachers are not replaced immediately and other teachers have to sit in the classes affected,” the teacher disclosed. “That is additional work, because you still have your own classes to attend.

“Just from my own observations, there are several reasons why teachers resign at the rate they do,” the teacher continued. “For one, we are not properly compensated and, to top that off, the students are extremely disrespectful and it is almost as if, us, teachers, do not have any rights.”

The teacher said, too, that it takes a lot of strength and dedication to stay in the education system.

Last week, Karl Samuda, minister without portfolio who is overseeing the education ministry, reported that 390 teachers have left the public school system since last September.

Although the number raises many eyebrows, Samuda has said there is no need to panic and that the ministry is already implementing measures to buffer and fill the gaps.

“…When one considers that we have a total teaching population of just under 24,000, this amount comprises about 1.6 per cent... so it has impacted on the ministry but it is not at a level where we need to be alarmed. We would be alarmed if we were not monitoring it, and we have not taken measures to correct it,” he said.

Samuda also noted that the majority of the resignations have come from secondary schools, with region one, which comprises Kingston and St Andrew, accounting for 134 — the bulk of the resignations.

Seventy-eight teachers in region two (Portland, St Thomas, and St Mary) have quit; 37 from region three (St Ann and Trelawny); 69 from region four (St James, Hanover, and Westmoreland); 40 from region five (Manchester and St Elizabeth); and 32 from St Catherine and Clarendon, which comprise region six.

— Shanae Stewart

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