The current definition of a teacher as contained in the Jamaica Teaching Council Bill that is being examined by a Joint Select Committee of Parliament, if retained, would exclude the majority of teachers at the Early Childhood Commission level.
This was noted by the University of the West Indies’ School of Education in its recent submission before the committee examining the Bill.
According to the School of Education, the proposed revision “represents a bold and necessary step for advancing the teaching profession in Jamaica, and was seen as an improvement in how a teacher is defined.”
It noted that the Bill defines a teacher as someone with not only a first degree, but someone with both a first degree and a post-graduate diploma in education.
The School of Education also noted that the Bill makes “explicit reference to teachers as persons who, having been admitted to an educational teaching programme duly recognised in the country in which the person is qualified, has completed a bachelor’s degree in education or its equivalent or a first degree with a post-graduate diploma in education, and thereby satisfies the qualifications to be registered as a teacher under this Act.”
But, the school cited that most teachers at the Early Childhood Commission level are trained to the vocational level only.
The School of Education said its stakeholders considered whether such persons are no longer qualified to teach at the pre-primary level, and pointed out that the definition appeared to counter the Early Childhood Act, which states that the Early Childhood Commission can prescribe the qualifications of teachers at that level.
The school also asked which of the acts would take precedence in this regard, as while the JTC Bill makes reference to the Education Act; that Act is currently under revision. As such, it said the references and sections were subject to change.