Teacher unrest in Manchester, St Elizabeth

May 26, 2023
Teachers from Manchester and St Elizabeth protesting the government's handling of the compensation review , outside the gates of the Ministry of Education Region 5 office in Mandeville, this morning - Tamara Bailey

Placard bearing educators from a number of institutions across Manchester and St Elizabeth staged a protest outside the gates of the Ministry of Education region 5 office this morning.

They are declaring their displeasure with the government’s handling of the compensation review.

Among the issues the teachers are seeking immediate redress for is the absence of the retroactive payment they should have received earlier this year and an improved salary offering that can realistically sustain them. 

President of the Jamaica Teachers Association St Elizabeth Chapter, Mark Smith said the Ministry of Education through the Ministry of Finance have yet to respond to the concerns of the educators efficiently.

“We are here to register our concerns and ask that the good ministers, in both ministries, do take the opportunity to engage with the President of the JTA and listen to the concerns of the teachers of this country. We have been, for too long, asked to hold strain…”

In a move to put a possible end to the strike action of the educators across the island, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security has arranged a conciliation meeting between the Ministry of Education and Youth and the JTA this morning.

However, an unfavourable outcome of today’s meeting could mean prolonged action by the teachers.

“We really feel that we are being left behind, especially against the backdrop of the recent controversy surrounding salaries with our political directorate. We have no problem with our politicians deserving a raise, but we also believe the teachers of this country deserve a raise that reflect the work”

Smith indicated that there needs to be greater accountability for how these decisions are made and how efficiently jobs are carried out.

“Many of our colleagues are unable to pay their bills, not because they are not hard working Jamaicans that contribute to national development, but because there are inefficiencies within the Ministry of Education that needs to be tackled…”

He added “There is no version of a Jamaica that has a strong economy, that is classified as a knowledge based economy, without a strong education class that will be created by the teachers of the country…”

Failure to address the disquiet of the teachers, smith indicated, will only result in brain drain among other significant events that will invariably impact the education sector.

“The children of this country are the future and we have to invest in them. You cannot disaggregate the investment in the teachers of this country from an investment in education…” he ended  

- Tamara Bailey

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