Teachers to meet with Gov't officials today

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

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AS the island's public school teachers continue their third-straight day of protest, representatives from the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) along with officials from the ministries of education and finance and the public service are scheduled to meet in an emergency conciliation meeting today.

The meeting, which is in response to reports of islandwide industrial action taken by government-paid teachers, was called yesterday by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security but was rescheduled after the JTA indicated that it was unable to assemble its team at such short notice. The JTA, however, said that it would be willing to meet today at 10:00 am at the office of the labour ministry.

A significant number of the island's 23,000 public school teachers on Monday embarked on what sources say is a three-day sick-out or sit-in protest against the Government's wage offer of a 16 per cent increase over a four-year period.

For the second-straight day yesterday, majority of public school teachers stayed away from classrooms as they continued their protest.

On Monday, hundreds of students were dislocated as few teachers showed up to classes resulting in some schools closing their doors early, while others had to employ strategic deployment of staff and some had to get backup personnel to man classes and teach students.

Yesterday the situation continued with low numbers of teachers reporting for duty and several schools having to forego classes and close their doors, despite instructions from the Ministry of Education that all public schools be kept open.

There were also reports of low student turnout in all six regions, according to a press release from the Education Ministry.

The ministry also reported that of the 128 primary schools checked in the six regions, nine were closed.

Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid reiterated that schools should not be closed without prior approval from the ministry. He also stated that the ministry had expanded its contingency plans with all officers and volunteers out in the field providing support for schools.

Reid said, too, that Catholic College of Mandeville, Northern Caribbean University, Caribbean Maritime University, and Sam Sharpe Teachers' College all deployed student teachers to provide additional coverage.

The minster said, despite concerns from some parents about the timing of the industrial action, the Grade Six Achievement Tests will not be rescheduled and will take place on March 22 and 23 as planned.

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