The Ministry of Education will be making adjustments to the entitlement of paid study leave granted to the nation’s teachers this year.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, in making the announcement during his contribution to the 2013/2014 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, May 15, said the Government can no longer afford the $2.5 billion per annum cost of study and vacation leave incurred by the country’s teachers.
He informed that $574 million is currently owed to schools for substitute teachers and the paid-for courses of study are often in areas unrelated to school needs.
“This year, we are kindly inviting teachers, who wish to do further studies, to do so by pursuing courses during vacation time and by part-time and distance education. Study leave requiring absence from the classroom will not be approved except in special circumstances,” Minister Thwaites said.
To compensate for the suspension of leave, the Minister informed that whenever a teacher enrolls in a course of study directly relating to his or her area of teaching, or to meet systemic need, the Ministry will underwrite one half of the tuition cost.
“If satisfactory progress is maintained and there is no reduction of good performance in the classroom, the Ministry will pay out the portion due at the end of each academic year rather than waiting until the completion of the course,” he stated.
The Minister further informed that this year, the Ministry will be using teachers who are already employed but under-deployed, to replace those teachers going on vacation and study leave.
“In one region alone the savings will be $90 million. These savings will be ploughed back into the system to allow more of our teachers to upgrade themselves,” Minister Thwaites said.
Teachers are entitled to four months leave with pay for every five years of service.
“On an annual basis, a teacher employed before September 2003 can apply for 52 days leave on full pay, and another 40 days more half pay; those teachers employed after September 2003 can apply for 40 days leave on full pay, and another 28 days more half pay. These are subtractions from the prescribed 190 school days,” Minister Thwaites informed.
With regards to study leave, a teacher, after two years of service, is eligible to one year fully paid study leave. Further leave may be granted for up to another year without pay, the Minister informed.
“Without rancor or ill will, these arrangements are no longer affordable,” he stated.
He said that when the Education Code is revised later this year, the Ministry, in consultation with the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA), will address the matter of accumulating long leave and the articulation of leave entitlements.
He told the House that the Ministry of Education is taking all legal steps to enforce repayment of outstanding bonds.
Contact: Andrea Braham