30 May

*“If education is the key, tell me who change the lock….”     but has the lock really changed or  is it that the key did not fit from the onset?

It is just absolutely disappointing yet not surprising the ugly turn that this situation with the Minister of Education has become.  Doran Dixon in the past has been a very good president of the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA).  It was under his presidency that teachers received the most satisfactory wage increase and other benefits.  Despite, this, I will be one of the first to admit that his analogy re the minister of education as a mongrel dog was unfortunate, inappropriate and unacceptable.   But what strike me the most about this matter is the numerous persons including Principals and members of the Jamaica Parent Teachers Association (JPTA) who immediately rushed to chastise him for the same.

When Rev. Ronnie Thwaites made the pronouncement about retracting study leave with pay, I did not hear these persons ( principals & PTA representatives) adding their voices to the discourse in defense of teachers entitlement.  But it is not surprising. Only who feels it knows it.  The benefits allotted to principals are quite attractive and so it seems that the plights of a regular classroom teacher are not recognized by some of them.    As for the JPTA organization of Jamaica, I have never heard that organization start a discourse about the absence of parental involvement in schools, or high level of violence in schools, yet on Mr Dixon comment seem to have allowed them to emerge from the shadows.    What is now unfortunate is that the important issues are being ignored and the emphasis is now on the comment made by former JTA president.


How can the education system move forward if we continue to ignore what the real issues are?  The recent report by the National Education Inspectorate with the damning information about the education system that the ministry of education made public, is laying the blame squarely at the feet of teachers.   It is quite disappointing that Mr Thwaites would stoop so low as to use information in the context of ammunition for his lack of disregard for teachers.      In his most recent interview on the matter he advanced that this information was presented to him some time ago.  My question is, why wasn’t it made public before?  Why wait until now when he is about to recant the provision that allows for continued professional development of teachers?   Such action in my mind alludes to his intention of vilifying teachers in order to justify his decision

The last fifty years, our education system has not grown significantly because there is a lack of investment by the powers that be. This further indicates why the economy has not grown.   It is the human resource of a country that contributes to its growth process. But how can we improve human resource when there is little or no investment in education.  The education ministry should be investing base on per student capita, not a general school populace. No wonder Jamaica’s education system is the worst in the Caribbean and possible the world. ( I will have to do some research on this)  the current discourse should be about what has the government invested or NOT invested why over the years, we fail to improve the education system.  There should be implementation of best practices adopted from other countries/regions where their education system is flourishing.  Therefore, the focus of the discourse is wrong.

This is should be focus of our government

If only our leaders could effectively do this….



The damning reports also revealed that leadership is a major problem.  If my knowledge serves me well, and I know it does, It is the ministry that approves principalship.    Each school in Jamaica has an education officer whose task is to work closely with a school’s administration and hold them accountable.  The education officers must report to the permanent secretary.  It therefore mans that if incompetent leaders are in our schools, somebody is NOT doing their job is it is definitely not the teachers.  So I ask the question, who is attacking thing from that perspective? I therefore say Mr Thwaites need to pick the beam from his eye so he can clearly see what is in someone else’s.

The double standard continues.     The last fifty years, the economy of Jamaica has deteriorated to a crisis level.   Our dear politicians- who Mr Thwaites is one- are responsible for all the policies and decisions made.   Cumulatively, the decisions made by the political representatives have only served to put the country into further peril-further decay of education. Therefore if this is not under performance I do not know what is. Yet still, they have been rewarded with multimillion dollar SUVs.  It therefore means the same country that is unable to keep teachers on study leave with pay because of a lack of resource yet it can afford to give these high end vehicles.  Yet, the populace did not make it their mandate to lobby against such actions.  Why didn’t they cut their benefits as a symbolic gesture to the nation that they are also holding strain?   Teachers are easy target.

It doesn’t stop there. Numerous politicians have been missing parliamentary sittings without apologies and no logical explanation. Yet still they have retained their positions in the government and reaping benefits.  But tell me, which teacher can just opt not to attend work at his or her leisure without facing dire consequences?  Impossible!!!!   The politicians do it all the time though with no ramifications.  Yet, the common consensus is that teachers are failing.  Where is the equity in measuring performance?  The real question therefore is; is it our teachers that are failing or is it that our Education managers have FAILED to adequately manage education?

This article is in no way trying to paint a perfect picture of teachers because I do believe we have a few incompetent ones in the system BUT  I believe the main problem with our education system is not with the teachers but the short comings and short sighted and politically driven policy makers who are at the helm.  They are using the WRONG key.  As with most things, someone must take the fall and in this case it’s the teachers.

Education is not a romping shop

*line taken from the poem “Locks & Keys” by Sabrena McDonald.

*images taken from google pictures



  1. Cash Advance July 27, 2013 at 2:58 am #

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    • rainereid August 16, 2013 at 6:10 am #

      Thanks Cash Advance for sharing a thought. I am however not sure what source you are asking me to get.


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