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Cut out the 'acting' at education ministry — new JTA head

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Newly installed president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association, Owen Speid, has echoed the call for the Government to appoint a full-time minister of education.

Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Karl Samuda was assigned to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information earlier this year, following Ruel Reid's resignation from the Cabinet and Senate.

“It is high time that the prime minister intervenes and names a full minister. He needs to name a full minister because when he does that, he'll put the minister in a position to outline strategies for education going forward for the short term, medium term and long term,” Speid said on Monday night while speaking at the investiture ceremony of the three-day Jamaica Teachers' Association 55th Annual General Conference, being held at Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in St James.

“As it stands, I am not sure if there can be any policy outlined for the next year or two because of the uncertainty caused by naming a minister who is interim,” he added.

The incoming president expressed that if Prime Minister Andrew Holness is considering naming Samuda “as full minister, then do it”.

“All I am saying is that we need to be afforded more respect in this regard,” Speid charged.

He joked that the Ministry of Education is currently replete with interim administrators.

“My colleagues and friends, we think that we are a bit slighted by the Government. We think that the education sector has the most stakeholders in this country. We think that it is high time that we cut out some of the 'acting' that is going on at the ministry. At this time, we have an acting minister [of education], an acting permanent secretary, [and] an acting chief education officer. Can you imagine if the children at school and the janitor and everybody there start acting too?” he quipped.

The JTA's annual conference is being held under the theme: 'Empowering Educators: Retooling, Innovating & Networking for Sustainable Development'.

Commenting on the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) assessment, Speid suggested that the test run for a week instead of over three months, as it is difficult to keep the young students motivated over the extended period.

“At the grade six level it may be better to have all the exams in one week — that is what I am hearing on the ground,” Speid said.

During his speech, outgoing President Dr Garth Anderson defended his tenureship.

“I am proud that I am leaving the JTA better than I found it, having built on the foundation laid by those who served in the past,” Dr Anderson said.


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