JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Government Senator, Wensworth Skeffery, is calling for a transformation of the government teacher colleges.
  • The Senator was opening the debate on a motion calling for a comprehensive reorganisation of teacher training in Jamaica.
  • Senator Skeffery said focus must be placed on developing maths, literacy, science, special education, career guidance counsellors and technology programmes.

Government Senator, Wensworth Skeffery, is calling for a transformation of the government teacher colleges into institutions which focus on providing the type of training that is needed in the country.

The Senator was opening the debate on a motion calling for a comprehensive reorganisation of teacher training in Jamaica, in the Senate on February 7.

“Change the mandate of all our teachers’ colleges to address the specific real educational needs within the society,” Senator Skeffery emphasised.

He proposed that specific colleges focus on training teachers for the Science, Technology, Engineer and Mathematics (STEM) discipline.

“We do not need all to be doing the same thing; resources is limited, hence we must get maximum value for money. Jamaica does not need more teachers. What Jamaica needs is more specialist teachers,” the Senator stressed.

He suggested that the Government limits the enrolment and intake to programmes that the country does not now need, noting that private institutions will provide that general need at no cost to the government.

Senator Skeffery said focus must be placed on developing maths, literacy, science, special education, career guidance counsellors and technology programmes at the diploma, bachelors and masters level, with emphasis on these in teachers’ colleges.

He also lauded the partnership between Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College and the Caribbean Maritime Institute to provide training in global logistics.

“We must hail this partnership. Let me hope that ultimately we will be training teachers in these areas, so we can train our youngsters within our secondary schools with these skills,” Senator Skeffery said.

Meanwhile, Opposition Senator, Ruel Reid, said that the licensing and registration of teachers  are important, as this will be the legislative framework that will establish a benchmark for teacher training.

“I know we will have to grandfather some of the persons who are currently in the system, but I agree we have to move quickly to establish the benchmark,” the Senator said.

For her part, Senator Angela Brown Burke argued that teacher education should be about skills training that the country needs.

“We need individuals who are trained to deal with effective partnerships with our communities and with our parents. There is no doubt that within our schools we need to encourage our parents,” Senator Brown Burke said.

The motion, which was approved by the Senate, is specifically calling on the Government to give serious consideration to the rationalisation of teacher training institutions to focus on specific needs and aims with alignment to national, regional and international colleges and universities.