Tribute to Teachers
Today we pause to honour and pay tribute to some real heroes –our teachers.

Teachers’ Day is a time to share stories about and express appreciation to teachers who have shaped our lives –fundamental people who helped us to be what we are today.

For me there was Ms Butler who took time to notice that the six-year-old child at the back of the class was distracted because he needed eye-glasses so he could see the blackboard. Then there was Ms Ross who enticed us into the library and showed us the magic of great books.

I recall today the principal who, after discovering that in an essay I had used an author’s quote without attribution, explained to me sternly, but compassionately, the wrong of plagiarism, rather than suspending me. Then there was the brilliant man, who went on to be a university president, who cultivated in us reverence for Jamaican culture and the dramatic arts.

All across Jamaica there are hosts of teachers who go the extra mile to ensure that the nation’s children achieve optimal learning. I make mention of the teachers in Quality Education Circle # 32 in Region Three as a representative group of thousands more. These teachers have taken up the challenges associated with the performance of the children in Mathematics, Language Arts and Student Assessment in particular. They have reviewed and analysed the data, reflected on the actions necessary to improve children’s performance and taken steps to turn their school around.

They are fine examples of teachers and principals working together to add value to our children’s learning experiences and outcomes.

The management team at the Ministry of Education is hopeful that the on-going negotiations with the Ministry of Finance will end in mutual satisfaction. The Ministry of Education is committed to finding ways to improve teachers’ conditions of employment from our budget.

Grade Four Literacy and Numeracy Tests

I take this opportunity on Teachers Day to specially commend the hardworking primary school teachers and their principals who are now preparing students in the grade-four age cohort to sit the Grade Four Literacy and Numeracy Tests at the end of June.

The Grade Four Literacy Test is a crucial examination because students have to pass it in order to be eligible to sit the Grade Six Achievement Test which determines placement in a high school. Look at what Mrs. Lewis Schoolfield has been able to do with no more resources and no brighter children than most other places.

Many teachers have given free extra lessons to students who are in need of additional attention. In this regard, I hail the teachers at Mannings Hill Primary in St Andrew and Lyssons Primary in St Thomas who are among thousands of teachers in hundreds of schools who give freely of their time to ensure that needy students receive addition tutorial time.

Leadership and Modelling are crucial attributes of good teachers. Look at the transformation taking place under Mrs. Dobbs at Buff Bay Primary School and Mrs. Henry-Tracey at Brimmervale High and Mrs. Bolt at Holy Trinity. And there are scores of others like them and some too who must try hard to be like them.

National Support
Our schools need the support of the entire nation. We need all hands on deck –parents, other relatives, volunteers, members of parliament, alumni, you name them.

Let us all join hands with teachers as they seek to add value to our children’s lives through education.

I salute all teachers across the island.

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