- Prime Minister Simpson Miller said the future of the country’s children’s is too important for the 50-year-old teacher’s union and government not to find a way to work together.
- The Prime Minister also noted that a way has to be found to highlight the success stories of students from the inner cities and rural Jamaica.
- As the JTA marks its 50th anniversary, the organisation will be stepping up its focus on excellence.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, has extended the hand of partnership to the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA), noting that the future of the country’s children’s is too important for the 50-year-old teacher’s union and government not to find a way to work together.
She was addressing the JTA’s, ‘Roll of Honour Award Ceremony’, held on February 12, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, where she assured the nation’s educators of Government’s commitment to ensuring that all students receive quality education.
“The Government and the Jamaica Teachers Association are at one in our commitment to quality education. Sometimes, we will disagree about approaches and methods, but that does not have to become a problem. Disagreements can be healthy. It can cause us to fashion new approaches as we debate and discuss. I believe in dialogue, and I know that the Minister’s door is always open to the JTA,” she stated.
She also noted that a way has to be found to highlight the success stories of students from the inner cities and rural Jamaica, who are overcoming the odds, so that others will realize that they too, are able to succeed.
“As educators, you do appreciate how much our students need encouragement, guidance and motivation. This helps to build their self-esteem and self-confidence and in fact, is the beginning of their journey to self-actualization,” she stated.
The Prime Minister outlined the administration’s efforts during the last fiscal year to improve the system, pointing out that 2,300 places were added through expansion and construction of new schools; 68 infant departments were incorporated into primary schools; and two stand-alone infant schools were established under the Early Childhood Commission’s rationalization project.
She further informed that the Education Ministry, last year, deployed more than 100 literacy specialists and reading coaches in 450 primary, all-age, and junior high schools as well as 25 high schools. Fifty maths specialists are now being recruited to work in institutions across Jamaica.
Mrs. Simpson Miller also cited the breakfast programme established in 37 schools, covering over 8,000 students, with an additional 137 basic schools added last month.
Meanwhile, JTA President, Dr. Mark Nicely, in acknowledging the need for increased collaboration with the Ministry of Education stated that “we both share a similar objective of providing quality education for all and, therefore, an adversarial relationship is not in our best interest or that of our stakeholders”.
“Both organisations must therefore, be prepared to exercise flexibility in order to achieve our common goals and strive for mutuality as the preferred path,” Dr. Nicely said.
He pointed out however that education is not just the responsibility of the Government and educators, and called on corporate Jamaica to invest in the sector, which will redound to the benefit of all.
Dr. Nicely said that as the JTA marks its 50th anniversary, the organisation will be stepping up its focus on excellence and turning the spotlight on the tremendous contribution that educators have made to nation building over the decades.
The JTA last night presented past president of the Association, Patrick Smith, with the 2013 Roll of Honour award.
Mr. Smith, who has given more than 40 years of dedicated service to the teaching profession, was cheered on by his colleagues as he accepted the award.