Teacher licensing and registration Bill approved by Cabinet

Teacher licensing and registration Bill approved by Cabinet

Observer senior reporter

Monday, February 04, 2019

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THE long awaited Jamaica Teaching Council (JTC) b ill, which will establish a licensing and registration regime for Government-paid teachers, has now been approved by Cabinet.

Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid made the announcement in the Senate on Friday. The legislation will establish a governing body for the teaching profession and introduce new procedures, such as professional disciplinary action for teachers and principals.

“The JTC bill that has been languishing for many years…we have now just had the approval from Cabinet and will receive comments from the AG's (Attorney General's) department and go back to legislative committee. We expect to lay the JTC bill on the table of Parliament in short order,” Reid outlined in his presentation in the State of the Nation debate.

The JTC was established in 2008 as a part of the Education Transformation Strategy to improve the quality and coverage of education. Its mandate is to reposition the teaching profession.

Meanwhile, Reid said the ministry has completed its revision of the 1980 regulations to the Education Act. Among other things, the new regulations will formally abolish corporal punishment in public education institutions.

The Government has been re-emphasising its position on corporal punishment, warning public institutions against the long-standing practice. Prime Minister Andrew Holness recently reiterated his administration's position that there should be no corporal punishment in schools, especially in early childhood institutions.

“What we have been doing in allowing corporal punishment in our educational institutions, is to entrench and legitimise the use of unregulated force — violence. We have been literally saying to our children, a slap is right, and when that child leaves [school], then a kick is right, then a stab is right, then shooting is right,” Holness stated at the handover ceremony for the Jamaica China Goodwill Infant School I and II in Olympic Gardens, St Andrew in November.

The regulations are also expected to address the call for an increase in the number of members of primary school boards, and introduce standards to which schools should conform. This includes guidelines on attire, conduct and discipline of students.

The education minister also informed the Upper House that consultations are ongoing for the transition of the Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission to become the Higher Education Commission.

In 2010, the Tertiary Education Commission was approved but no legal framework is in place to establish the body. The Government has said that an overarching higher education framework must be put in place first in order to establish the commission.

“There has been in long gestation trying to decide where JTEC should go. We are at the stage now where we will be moving from the concept of JTEC to a higher education commission and that will help to further manage the higher education landscape,” Reid said.

He said some of the work that will be undertaken to create the commission are amendments to the University Council of Jamaica Act to allow for a merger of that body and the National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training.

The minister has said that a higher education sector within a legislated framework will incorporate formal and informal training across all types of educational institutions, along with professional education and training.

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