US school administrator stresses teacher shortage is a global phenomenon, as teacher laments poor working conditions in Jamaica


As schools got underway in Jamaica this week, there were several institutions that did not have their full complement of teachers.


This, as at least 248 teachers resigned over the summer. Another 1, 877 educators are on vacation or study leave. Among the teachers who have resigned, are several who have left the island in search of greener pastures.


It’s no secret that the island’s teachers are dissatisfied with their salaries. After months of negotiations, the Jamaica Teachers’ Association recently signed an agreement for a 4% wage increase for public school teachers. But even with the increase, dozens of teachers continue to feel that they are being short-changed by the government.


A former primary school teacher, who is now living and working in the United States, told IRIE FM News that she had not planned on leaving, Jamaica, but an opportunity presented itself and she took it.


She noted that while salary was a major push factor, issues such as a lack of resources in Jamaica’s schools also contributed to her decision.



The teacher explained that she has a class of 19 students, compared to Jamaica where she often had up to 49 students in her class.


She noted that she is relieved to be away from the challenges experienced in the Jamaican school setting.



She lamented that the classrooms in Jamaica are not conducive to the teaching-learning process.


The educator noted that in addition to increasing teachers’ salaries, Jamaica’s government needs to invest more in the classrooms.



But while there has been much emphasis on the teacher shortage in Jamaica, which many have blamed in part on the migration of some educators, a US school administrator is stressing that the phenomenon is not new and that it’s not just a Jamaican problem.


Dr. Asneth Council, who is the director of 8 early childhood programs in New York explained that there is also a major shortage in the US, hence the recruitment of overseas teachers.



While Jamaican teachers are impressed with the scale of the salaries offered in their new homeland, Dr. Council said the salary a teacher receives in the US is relatively low compared to other professions.



As it relates to addressing the teacher shortage in Jamaica, Dr. Council said this will be a challenge.


She noted, however, that in addition to increasing teachers’ salaries, the government must address the working conditions of the island’s educators.



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