Several thousand educators could lose their jobs based on new definition of ‘teacher’, says NPTAJ

Teachers are as much responsible for the learning that happens in a classroom, such as this one, as they are for the life lessons children take away from the classroom.

KINGSTON, Jamaica – The National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica, NPTAJ, says it is concerned that several thousand teachers at the early childhood level could be separated from their jobs if the current definition of ‘teacher’ in the Jamaica Teaching Council Bill is allowed to stand.

The NPTAJ joins a growing list of organizations expressing similar concerns, including the Jamaica Teachers Association and the UWI School of Education. The NPTAJ raised its concerns on Thursday in its written submissions before the Joint Select Committee of Parliament examining the Jamaica Teaching Council Act, 2022.

According to the Bill, a teacher “means a person, who, having been admitted to an educational teaching program duly recognized in the country in which the person is qualified, has successfully completed a bachelor’s degree in education or its equivalent or alternatively, a first degree with a post graduate diploma in education and thereby satisfies the qualifications to be registered as a teacher under this Act”.

“We share the Jamaica Teachers Association’s concern about the definition of a teacher, as this would remove about 2,000 teachers from the system,” the NPTAJ argued.

It added that: “What matters is whether they will be given time and funding to meet the qualifying requirements in three to five years so we do not see an exodus of our best teachers from the classroom. Some of the best teachers, parents will tell you, are the ones who give of themselves, love our children, but are not qualified based on this new definition”.

The NPTAJ questioned “How do we protect these teachers? How do we replace these teachers if they leave? Do we train them, or pay them to get these qualifications?”

The Association said it was also concerned that if teachers are so busy trying to get qualified and stay qualified, they will not have time for areas such as the PTA and other extra-curricular activities in which they now take part or lead, in the schools .

“It will result in us short-changing our teachers and students. It is the teachers’ involvement in such activities that makes for the value-added education that is now the buzz word. As a body we believe the Government as well as society should offer these teachers ample opportunities and protection for them to obtain the requisite qualifications within their subject of specialisation,” the NPTAJ said.