JIS News

The Ministry of Education is imploring educators to avoid behaving in a manner that may bring the teaching profession into disrepute.

Speaking at an emergency press briefing on Wednesday (February 2), at the Ministry, Heroes Circle, Kingston, Minister Andrew Holness reminded school officials that participation in protest action is prohibited.

"We will be taking a zero tolerant approach to protests and demonstrations on school property, the locking up of school property; and, while it may be the constitutional right of someone to protest within the confines of the law, the Ministry of Education wants to maintain the reputation and integrity of the teaching profession," he said.

Mr. Holness added that teachers who participate in demonstrations and encourage students to do so in their presence, without intervention, brings the profession into disrepute.

His comments come in the wake of recent protest action by teachers at the Balaclava High School, St. Elizabeth, protesting against the selection of the school’s new principal.

He said, while the educators may have a concern about developments within the Ministry, these should not be addressed via demonstrations.

"If there is a dispute with the appointment of a Principal, I am always open to a complaint to be lodged. If your complaint is not attended at the local level, your duty is to bring it to a higher level. As teachers, principals, schools leaders, we cannot teach our children that the only way to resolve disputes is to block roads, chaining government property and behaving in a disorderly fashion: I reject that totally," he said.

Mr. Holness said that instructions will be given to the school board to apply the necessary sanctions to the educators involved in the protest.

"And failing any action on the part of the Board to carry out our direction, we will have to take action against the school board," the Minister warned.

He said that the day must come in Jamaica, "when we insulate the education system from the kind of bad behaviour that cripples the rest of the society".

The protest action at Balaclava High resulted in the suspension of classes for two days.

Contact: Chris Patterson