The Ministry of Education will employ 300 newly trained teachers as interns in special areas of need throughout the education system, during the upcoming 2012/13 academic year.
Portfolio Minister, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, said the move is to reduce the large numbers of unemployed teachers in Jamaica. "We have some 2,000 teachers who are fully trained, who we can’t employ," the Minister lamented.
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Rev. Thwaites was addressing journalists on July 24, during a press briefing at Jamaica House, in Kingston.
The Minister explained that the teachers will be utilised as interns in schools in their communities, particularly in special education, where the class sizes are usually smaller.
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“They can come in and help out in the schools, start their teaching careers, earn a stipend, and when there is an opening, they will be placed. They will be utilised in the areas where there is need for more trained teachers and assistance in early childhood, and where there are deficiencies in literacy and numeracy,” Rev. Thwaites noted.
Unemployed teachers are therefore being asked to register with their Regional Offices, following which an analysis and matching process will be undertaken.
The selected teachers will undergo additional training during the last two weeks in August, after which they will be placed in schools in September. They will be paid a gross total of $40,000 per month.
Meanwhile, Rev. Thwaites informed that statistics from the Ministry indicate that there is a favourable teacher/student ratio in all sectors of the education system. “We have enough teachers in the system to provide reasonable class sizes for all our children," he said.
The Minister noted however, that the problem lies in the area of distribution, as educators are not allocated evenly throughout the system, which causes the issue of large class sizes in some areas.
Rev. Thwaites said to alleviate the problem; the Government has been working with the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) to encourage the voluntary relocation of some teachers to areas of need.
"We must also eventually change our contractual arrangements too, which allow for the Ministry and its Regional Offices to place teachers where they are needed, rather than where they are originally employed," he said.
"We have schools where the population has dropped, but still have lots of teachers tenured there, whereas you have schools that are bursting at the seams and have inadequate staff," the Minister pointed out.
Rev. Thwaites said the process of relocation must not be seen as threatening, but instead as a necessary strategy by the Government to organise the education system, so students can benefit from quality education.
"The organisation of the teaching process has to respond to the needs of the children. The education system is for the children of this country and therefore we must make these changes," he emphasised.