Students play as disgruntled teachers avoid classrooms
Students of St Aloysius Primary play as classes were suspended when teachers went on strike Thursday. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

SEVERAL students at public schools in Kingston and St Andrew used the opportunity to play with friends as teachers stayed away from the classroom Thursday.

The teachers are disgruntled over what has been described by president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) La Sonja Harrison as discrepancies and anomalies in a recent compensation review.

In a statement Thursday, Harrison said that "one teacher not paid correctly or underpaid affects all of us".

The Jamaica Observer visited Jamaica College Thursday morning to speak with Principal Wayne Robinson about the situation at the school and the mood among teachers. However, he was locked in meetings.

Jamaica College students sit under a tree at the school on Thursday as teachers stage a strike called by the Jamaica Teachers' Association. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

While the meetings went on students were spotted playing football in uniform or sitting under a tree playing video games, while others were engaged in discussions. Two students were overheard discussing their favourite mobile game 'Free Fire'. When asked whether they should be studying, one of them said, "School done, so what are we supposed to do?"

Some students used the opportunity to visit fast-food restaurants in the city.

One parent said she agreed that the teachers deserve good compensation; however, she wasn't pleased that the strike that left students idle.

"Parents sent out their kids and they are sitting doing nothing at all. They can't achieve anything by doing that. If the teachers gave them some work it would be better. The teachers have a right, still. The Government get 200 per cent raise and the teachers just get a measly salary. They deserve more. Look at the kids. They are wasting time and a lot of them come to achieve something. Some are playing football while some sit down over KFC," said the parent.

A Jamaica College student is being picked up from school on Thursday. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

Another parent said it was absolutely necessary for the teachers to stand up for themselves.

"I understand the issue and the harships that teachers face and the matters need to be addressed. Adjustments need to be made and the errors that were made need to be corrected. There seems to be a lot of disagreement and inequity coming out of that review. Teachers have economic hardship and it compounds everything. It is a big distraction. They need to take a stand," the parent said.

School was dismissed early at St Aloysius Primary and children had a field day.

However, the Jamaica Observer was told by security guards at Kingston College, St George's College, Clan Carthy High, Kingston High, and Charlie Smith High School that classes were in session as usual.

But while the teachers at Charlie Smith carried out their duties, one of them explained that his colleagues were likely to be pulled from the classrooms.

He said teachers have bills to pay and are entitled to a decent living and that they have the right to demand that.

The JTA president complained in her statement that several teachers have been negatively impacted by the implementation of the compensation review and that several anomalies were identified.

"The JTA brought same to the attention of our employers from the get-go. Official communication was first sent to Minister [Nigel] Clarke on April 18, 2023, requesting establishment of a technical committee to treat with anomalies and discrepancies. To date, no response," she said, pointing out that teachers hoped issues would have been sorted and that their April salaries would reflect such.

Harrison said that teachers who have already been paid for May have indicated that their salary issues remain unresolved. She encouraged them to voice their displeasure by taking industrial action.

"This continued disrespect for us as teachers is unacceptable. We must arise and register our displeasure," she said.

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