Minster of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites is encouraging stakeholders within the education system not to fear the proposed legislation governing the establishment of the Jamaica Teaching Council (JTC).
He said that the move to put the Council in place is not an attempt to cramp teachers’ rights, but rather “it is an important aspect to lift the lustre of the teaching profession (and) to raise you to the standards of professionalism that in fact, apply to every other profession."
Addressing the opening ceremony of the Shortwood Teachers’ College Annual Research Conference on April 26 on the college compound in St. Andrew, Rev. Thwaites argued that “no one can graduate from training college or university, enter into a profession and remain static without further learning for the remainder of your life."
“You need that continued professional development especially in an accelerating technological age. It is not an option, it is an absolute requirement and it must be so for certification, for licensing for promotion and for added remuneration,” the Education Minister said.
He stated that the standards that are to be set will not be defined by any political or administrative official but rather, will be done within the educational community and the teachers must themselves, be an integral part of that process.
The proposed Jamaica Teaching Council Bill will provide for the setting up of a body to govern the teaching profession and put a regime in place for the licensing and registration of all government paid teachers. It also gives legal powers to the Council to immediately suspend and cancel the registration of a teacher if the teacher is charged for what is deemed disqualifying offences, which includes sexual offences, murder, pornography, robbery and offences offraud.
In the meantime, Rev. Thwaites informed that the National Council on Education (NCE) is to be restored to its designated position as the main policy advisory group of the Ministry. He said that an announcement on the matter will be made soon.
The NCE was established by an Act of Parliament in March 1993. It was born out of the need to have a non-partisan, national and strategically placed organisation that would address a wide range of issues impacting on the education process.
The aim is to ensure continuity in policy development as well as to facilitate greater community involvement in the management of educational institutions.
The Shortwood Teachers’ College Annual Research Conference was held under the theme: ‘Fifty Years of Teacher Education in Jamaica: Educating for a Sustainable Future’.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter