JTA on board with recruiting retired teachers

Publication Date: 
Tuesday, August 23, 2022

WESTERN BUREAU:

The Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) has welcomed the move by the Ministry of Education to give school boards the green light to recruit retired educators to fill vacancies in schools that are short-staffed.

But the outgoing president of the 25,000-strong union, Winston Smith, said the situation also calls for caution.

“That has its share of challenges. Yes, we need help and I would not say no. Yes, the situation may be that we have to call them back in and if that must be done, though we are very cautious about it,” he said yesterday as the JTA’s 58th annual conference got under way at the Hilton Rose Hall Hotel in Montego Bay, St James.

Smith was responding to questions after Education Minister Fayval Williams said the ministry would allow schools to re-engage teachers who have retired since January 2018 on a part-time basis as concerns mount about high attrition rates ahead of the new school year.

“The concern we have is how the students will respond to these teachers and work with them, so we are urging parents to get their children to understand that we are in a situation that we need these persons, so you need to show them respect,” he said.

He noted that although the teachers has been out of the classroom for some time, there were no lame ducks.

“What we would say, having now recognised that we are in a crisis or a challenging situation, each retired teacher would have to make a determination for themselves,” said the JTA president, adding that they would have to weigh whether they can take on the rigours of the present era.

“It would at least help the system because those retired teachers are very experienced and they are very good in their craft. Therefore, it could be a good thing,” said Smith.

He added that the current crisis also presented an opportunity for persons who may not have initially wanted to be teachers to join the profession as pre-trained teachers.

“They may fall in love with the profession – like I did and went on to be trained and qualified and I’m now working in the system,” said Smith, who principal of Golden Spring Primary School in St Andrew.

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