Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, has reiterated that the Government does not intend to breach its promise to pay outstanding retroactive amounts owed to the islands teachers.
“The Government cannot breach its own agreement. Credibility and trust are everything for a Government, so it is our intention to pay. So you will be paid, no question about that,” Mr. Holness told teachers at yesterday’s (July 2) 16th Golden Torch Award Ceremony for Service in Education to Jamaica, at the Hilton Kingston Hotel in New Kingston.
While conceding that a formal announcement was not yet made on the issue, Mr. Holness stated that discussions will take place with the Ministry of Finance to resolve the matter, soon.
“My understanding of the grouse is that the Government was not communicating with the Executive of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), to say exactly how and when we will fulfill our agreement. We indicated, though I must admit not in a formal way, that we could not accommodate in this year’s budget, the $7.8 billion that is owed, and that it would have to be made in [next year’s] budget,” the Minister stated.
Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, speaking with the President of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), Mr. Doran Dixon, during Thursday’s 16th Annual Golden Torch Award Ceremony to honour some 380 teachers who have contributed a minimum of 35 years to the education system. The ceremony took place at the Hilton Kingston Hotel (July 2).
“We will have to sit down very soon and have words with the Minister of Finance and his junior Minister, as to how the issue will be resolved,” he added.
According to Mr. Holness, teachers should understand that the Government is not callous, but is trying to achieve a balance.
“I don’t want the impression to be given that it is callous, but we have to balance all kinds of demands, and we are trying to ensure that we balance it in a way that the entire society benefits. Teachers hold a special place in our hearts”, he noted.
He said that the Government could never pay teachers enough for their hard work.
“The Government cannot demonstrate its love for teachers by paying them, because the truth of the matter is that we could never pay our teachers enough. What we commit to do is to always try to pay them better than what we are presently paying them, and that is our commitment,” he emphasised.
About 380 teachers, who have each given a minimum of 35 years of service to education, were honoured at the ceremony.
The Golden Torch Award for service to Education was instituted by the JTA, and gives recognition to teachers who have given long and meritorious service to education in Jamaica. The award is presented annually to JTA members who are still in the service.