JIS: Chief Executive Officer of the Jamaica Teaching Council (JTC), Dr. Winsome Gordon, says the Government’s move to implement a regime for the licensing and registration of teachers is aimed at ensuring greater levels of accountability and professionalism in teaching.
“There is a global move towards professionalising teaching,” she says in a JIS News interview.
“[This is] so that it is recognised as a professional body, with teachers registered according to certain criteria, licensed to practise, and the profession assesses itself for its own quality, its own contribution, its own relevance. So it’s an agreement that the teaching profession should be licensed and to be held accountable,” she notes.
The licensing regime is expected to take effect with the passage of the pending JTC Bill.
The legislation will also facilitate the establishment of a governing body for the teaching profession.
Education, Youth and Information Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, tells JIS News that “we are at the very last round of the review (of the Bill) before we send it back to Cabinet legislative committee”.
“I am hoping that before the end of this calendar year, we should be able to table it in Parliament,” he says.
Dr. Gordon says that the regime to be put in place will help address many of the challenges facing the sector, such as persons teaching subjects and grade cohorts for which they were not trained or certified.
She informs that registration will be free of cost while there will be a fee for getting the licence.
“Registration is registration for life. Licensing will be….for a period of about five years, and then the teacher will be required to renew the licence,” she notes.
She outlines that for renewal of licence, the teacher will have to demonstrate competence to teach, including ability to teach diverse groups, the ability to use modern technology effectively to bring about learning, and “that he or she reflects on teaching, does a bit of research and so on.”
She informs that teachers already in the sector will also have to be licensed.
“They will all need to be licensed and to operate within the licence. What we will expect is that those who have been in the system for years would have practised good teaching and so would not consider licensing a great challenge,” she points out.
A proposed teacher appraisal system is another component that will affect licence renewal.
Senator Reid tells JIS News that the Ministry is in consultation with the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) on the appraisal scheme.
“I have not signed off with that yet because it’s going to be a collaborative exercise between the JTA and our Ministry. So we are still at the review period. It is being (tested) but has not been made official yet,” he indicates.
The Education Minister is assuring teachers that the pending licensing and registration regime for the profession will serve to enhance their capacities and should not be feared.
“It will mean, therefore, in the licensing regime, that people are trained, certified and serving appropriately, based on their qualifications. So, you don’t have people who are early-childhood specialists teaching grade nine and subjects that they are not actually qualified to do,” he points out.
“I think it will further position the education system on a path for sustainable growth and development,” he adds.
Dr. Gordon agrees that licensing will serve to strengthen the teaching profession and ensure that persons pay greater attention to their practice.
“There are teachers, who are not worried about it because they have mastered the craft of teaching. They are not worried about it because they know that their practice is consistent with the expectation of the profession,” she points out.
Dr. Gordon says she hopes that with licensing the profession will return to the days when teachers were seen as icons in the society.
“Now we are losing that perception and we would like it to be reinstituted and for teachers to be held on that pedestal that they were. They are pivotal to the society,” Dr. Gordon states.
“They are pivotal to socio-economic advancement…and we want the teaching profession to be held in high esteem by the society,” Dr. Gordon adds.
For more information on the proposed licensing regime, persons may call the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information at 876-922-1400.
The JTC was established in 2008 as a part of the education transformation strategy to improve the quality and coverage of education. The council advocates for the teaching profession, and its ultimate goal is for the teaching to become the profession of choice.
CAPTION: Chief Executive Officer of the Jamaica Teaching Council (JTC), Dr. Winsome Gordon