JIS News

MONTEGO BAY – Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, says the Ministry has begun to reduce the number of teachers and the associated cost approved for study leave, on a phased basis, which will result in the saving of some $840 million during 2013/2014.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the 12th Annual Conference of the Association of Caribbean Higher Education Administrators (ACHEA), at the Hylton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in St. James, on July 11, the Minister said the success has resulted from teachers being encouraged to study part-time or through distant learning, where possible.

“The Ministry of Education has identified several areas where we can achieve savings and efficiencies and better spend the education dollar. One area is in the management of vacation and study leave for teachers,” Rev. Thwaites said.

“It is important to note that the Ministry has projected to achieve savings of $840 million in payments to replacement teachers, since only 143 out of 560 teachers who applied, have been granted study leave in the coming year. In addition, the Ministry is matching study leave approval with subject-teacher needs in areas such as Mathematics, Science and Special Education. We currently have shortage in these subject areas,” the Minister noted.

He indicated that in the next school year, the Ministry is projecting to achieve significant savings, to the extent that it will be able to redeploy teachers to fill positions of colleagues on vacation leave.

Rev. Thwaites informed that a total of 617 teachers on study will cost the Ministry approximately $802 million in emoluments for the new school year, and that the cost to pay replacement teachers for those teachers on study leave for the 2013/2014 period, is estimated at $818 million.

The Minister emphasized that the changes required to bring about more effectiveness in the education offerings in the country, “must come soon and will change the ways of our history, without sacrificing the good practices of our past.”

He urged delegates engaged in the conference to include in their discourse, ways to encourage parents to commit themselves to save for their children’s tertiary education from early, as Government cannot be expected to undertake full funding.

The conference, which will end on July 13, is being held under the theme: ‘The rules of the game have changed: responding to the new dynamics in higher education’. The participants, numbering over 150, are drawn from tertiary institutions in Jamaica and across the Caribbean.

Contact: Glenis A. Ros