The transformation of education begins with teachers

Dear Editor,

Happy World Teachers' Day, colleagues, locally and globally!

As we join the international community of educators to recognise as well as celebrate our worth and work we are cognisant of the fact that education is poised for a birthing/transformation owing to the major shifts affecting the sector globally. These shifts are, for the most part, the result of perennial challenges that were illuminated or worsened by the novel coronavirus pandemic, hence this year's theme 'The Transformation of Education begins with Teachers'.

These challenges — the lack of professional courtesy extended to us as practitioners, poor working conditions, and an unliveable wage compounded by the maladjusted behaviour displayed by many of our students — have frustrated teachers to the point of a global exodus from the profession. If nothing else, what became glaringly obvious was the lack of effective parenting in the homes from which our students come.

Thank you, my colleagues. Despite these negatives you who have chosen to stay and remain dedicated and committed to the greater cause of nation-building. Your goal remains that of honing Jamaica's greatest asset, our human resource, our children. May the eternal Father, with whom this nation has a covenantal relationship, continually bless, strengthen, and encourage your hearts as well as enlarge your territories.

Be assured, colleagues, that the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA), your union, remains steadfast and unwavering in its goal to join our international partners the Caribbean Union of Teachers, the American Federation of Teachers, and Education International, among others, to continue agitation that will ensure educators remain central to the conversation regarding the transformation of education.

Locally, as we lead said discussion in collaboration with the relevant stakeholders, germane to this conversation must be a review of our philosophy of education; financing of same to include better resourcing of schools for the provision of equitable access for all Jamaican children; and a liveable remuneration package for us as practitioners. These and other issues, such as fixing early childhood education as well as giving adequate attention to special needs students are critical as the learning condition of the student is the working condition of the teacher. Hence, my colleagues, we continue with a meticulous eye to monitor and participate in the discourse re the Jamaica Teaching Council Bill and the Compensation Review Project, along with other policy directives that will result in paradigm shifts in our educational landscape.

We must 'Revisit the Foundation; Building our Human Capital through Equitable Educational Opportunities'.

The JTA celebrates you this and every day, my colleagues. Your sacrificial service to nation-building has not gone unnoticed.

Do continue your labour of love to ensure Jamaica's original mandate is fulfilled so "that Jamaica may, under God, increase in beauty, fellowship, and prosperity and play her part in advancing the welfare of the whole human race". Let us continue to unite and serve.

President La Sonja Harrison

Jamaica Teachers' Association

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