2 Oct
The word no teacher wants to see regarding their leave

The word no teacher wants to see regarding their leave

“Due to economic constraint we are only granting study leave to the most critical areas of Maths, English, Science, Foreign Languages, Technical and Vocation. We suggests that you do this part-time or take up online studies…”

This is a quote from a letter sent to a colleague, justifying why after 10yrs of teaching and decided it was time to take up the continued professional development challenge, he was not able to get study leave. According to the ministry, he was not eligible because his major is Drama in Education. In this modern era our ministry’s thinking in so archaic. Besides, there are several things wrong with this statement.

1. Edna Manley College is the only school that offers this area of study at degree level in the Caribbean. The courses are offered to satisfy a full time study in a demanding and needed area. Because of its specialist nature, it goes without saying that if a person wants to serve his or her students better, the need access to the best thought that is in their field and to interact with others doing it. We should also remember that while timing maybe up to the employers, study leave is a right enshrined in ALL teachers contracts.

2. How does one take a PRACTICAL course online. While drama has its theoretical knowledge that could be facilitated online, how do you account for the practical classes (acting, dancing, lighting design, etc)? While the advances in ICT has made some things so easy to be done online, it is not up to the Ministry to give such suggestions, absent of any reason.

3. At which point was it that cultural studies/creative arts not a part of the national curriculum? The tie-ins to national development and to teaching and learning of a competent, trained and involved teacher of the arts is innumerable and if a representative of the ministry cannot see that, then it is no wonder our education system is failing to move forward together.

To show the disconnect between policy and comment by the ministry’s representative, currently, the MOE is making what it calls “critical changes” to the curricula from grades 1-9, that is believed will be better suited for the Jamaican society. One of the major change is that the ARTS are the drivers for the curricula. So how does a teacher of over 10yrs drive change when he cannot get the much needed study leave that he is entitled to, because somewhere in the ministry’s bureaucratic molehill, it has been branded as not critical? I think something is amiss.

It is very sad that in this era where the importance of the arts has been honed, accepted and utilized in other parts of the world as a best practice in education, here in Jamaica, they are berated; and their practitioners are treated as a nonentity, and not critical to national development. If our aim is to develop the holistic child, and drive national development, then how do we tell a child the ARTS is not critical. At the CSEC level, Jamaica is the leading Caribbean island in the Theatre Arts CSEC passes…We register the most students, the cultural aspect of the syllabus has a Jamaican dominance, and get a return of high percentage passes. Additionally, Jamaica dominate the world in cultural output. Yet, the teachers who are charged with the mandate to nurture the love for knowledge and self through the arts; to help students discover who they are and maximize their full potential, are denied the opportunity to upgrade themselves. I am yet to understand what makes the teachers of Math, Sciences, English, foreign languages, etc.. more deserving of upgrading than a teacher of drama (the arts), who has made his mark and done his work. It only points to a systemic misunderstanding of what education is and how we best serve it in Jamaica.

We continue to lose sight of the fact that not all students have the aptitude or interests to pursue careers sciences, foreign languages, etc, nor should be made to think that this is where they need to go to be considered bright. We have been so cultured to take this myopic view of education for so long, and we continue to spout it without realizing that we are suffocating or students; we are stifling the very country and education system we are supposed to be building. The real problem is the design of the system. Our limited, linear and archaic perspective on what good education is. Until we realize that the performing and creative arts are important teachers of communication, of applied numeracy and usage of theories, and viable career opportunities, we flounder in how to get our students to be better building a better Jamaica. If we fail to teach them the value of all their talents and those of others, and its importance to national development, we shall have taught them to fail.

What are your thoughts? Please share. They are welcomed here.

*image taken from google pics

*thanks to Gavin Myers for editing article




  1. SUBJECT NOT CRITICAL HENCE STUDY LEAVE WAS DENIED | Rainereid's Educators Block - October 2, 2014


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