JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Government is looking to increase the stipend paid to early childhood teachers by 15 per cent, next year.
  • The stipend, which the teachers are currently paid, is unsatisfactory and the aim is to bring their compensation to a level, which would encourage them to stay in the system.
  • Minister Thwaites encouraged the teachers and administrators to assess each child, and discuss with their parents, the expectations and commitment that are necessary for the advancement of their children.

The Government is looking to increase the stipend paid to early childhood teachers by 15 per cent, next year.

Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, made the announcement on July 31, at the Ministry’s Region One back-to-school conference, held at the Mona Visitor’s Lodge at the University of the West Indies.

He said the stipend, which the teachers are currently paid, is unsatisfactory and the aim is to bring their compensation to a level, which would encourage them to stay in the system.

Turning to other matters, Minister Thwaites encouraged the teachers and administrators not to “barrel ahead with the curriculum” when schools re-open in September, but to assess each child, and discuss with their parents, the expectations and commitment that are necessary for the advancement of their children.

He advised that where challenges are found, remediation should be carried out at the outset, and assistance sought from the Ministry.

Rev. Thwaites pointed out that some $20 billion is spent annually on remedial activities and programmes, after students are already immersed in the curriculum. He argued that, if initial assessments are done, and students with a challenge assisted at the outset, then these funds could be directed to other areas where there is a shortfall.

The Education Minister further implored schools not to move children further up the system, without remediation, if it is recognised that they have not yet attained the appropriate level of competence for their age.

He pointed out that this year, some 14.8 per cent of the education budget will go towards the early childhood sector, but that the data shows that some 30 per cent of those leaving basic schools for the primary level are not ready.

Rev. Thwaites said that the Ministry is targeting an annual 10 per cent improvement in this deficit, over the next three years.

On the matter of leave entitlements, Mr. Thwaites made it clear that, “there is no intention to deny teachers their vacation leave”. However, he noted that the system is challenged when 94 per cent of applications for leave fall within instructional periods.

The Education Minister noted that a strain is put on the public purse when the government is forced to pay substitute teachers, along with regular salaries for teachers who are on leave.

He argued that some compromise must be made, such as teachers taking their due leave each year, so as to avoid extensive leave, particularly during instructional periods.

Topics explored at the conference include: Public Private Partnership; Governance and School Effectiveness; The Role of the Board in Raising the Bar Of Excellence; Managing Student Behaviour ; Creating a Culture

For Discipline and High Achievement; Transforming and Changing Education; Enabling the Individual Learner; and the Region at Work – Positioned for Greater Impact.