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Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, is assuring the public that the two-day industrial action to be taken by Government teachers should not affect external examinations, which begin tomorrow (May 3).
The strike, which is expected to last from Monday, May 3 to Tuesday, May 4, is being carried out by teachers represented by the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA).
Speaking at a press conference at the Ministry’s head office in Kingston, on May 1, the Minister said that examinations should go ahead without much disruption, and does not expect that students will be prevented from sitting the examinations as a result of the strike.
“No child should be deprived of the right to sit his or her examinations. Principals have a duty to ensure that students are facilitated, particularly when the exam centres are government properties. So, all examination centres that are schools are expected to be open,” he said.
Mr. Holness said that teachers who are invigilators are expected to fulfill their obligations with the Overseas Examination Commission (OEC), adding that alternate arrangements are being made by the OEC to ensure that the examinations are administered smoothly.
The Minister said that all administrative, clerical and ancillary staff members are expected to be at work. “Except for teachers, the school should be open,” he added.
He noted that the Ministry has not been advised of any planned lockouts from the school compound and as such, “the Ministry is not expecting and would look unfavourably on any attempt to prevent access to schools, examination centres, laboratory or any examination material, which may be in the custody of the school,” he said.
The Minister argued that the action to be taken by the teachers is unfortunate at this time, given the difficult economic times that we are experiencing, “the crisis we have in education and of course, the binding fiscal constraints of the budget.”
He informed that the Regional Office staff will be out to ensure that all schools are open and administrative duties performed by the relevant staff members.
The external examinations are the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE).