Jamaica teachers paid closer to market value

KINGSTON, Jamaica, October 31, 2008 – The Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) and the government have officially signed off on a wage and fringe benefits package that will see salaries increased to 80 per cent of the existing private sector market.

Minister of Education, Andrew Holness, said that negotiations on the 2008-2010 agreement were completed without any dislocation to the education system. The teachers will be paid retroactively in three payments from December to June next year.

“This agreement will see teachers being moved in a significant way towards market. It will also see an increase in the education budget and it is only right that the teachers are the first beneficiaries of this increase in education expenditure,” he pointed out.

“The government has an objective to increase and improve the level of performance of our students and, therefore, we expect from our teachers a higher level of performance,” Mr Holness added.

The Education Minister pointed out that steps have already been undertaken to establish the Jamaica Teachers Council, which will work with teachers to develop the professional regulatory body for teaching in the country. This, he said, will provide for greater accountability in the profession.

“In other words, the performance of the teachers will now be tied to the results of the students and the results of the students will now be tied to the performance of the teachers,” he said.

“I think we have reached a point now in Jamaica where we can say that…we can, in a more direct way, hold teachers accountable [for their performance] whilst we try to get a hold of the other variables [which will have an impact] in the classroom.”

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Senator Dwight Nelson, noted that the agreement also provides a number of highlights, separate and apart from wage and salary increases.

These include increases in books, software and technology allowance; transportation allowance for teachers with special responsibility; protective clothing allowance; training for teachers that have been assigned to basic schools; special duty allowance; and specialist teaching.