|JTA welcomes new minister; reminds of election promises
Wednesday, October 30, 2002
JAMAICA Teachers Association (JTA) secretary-general Dr Adolf Cameron has welcomed the appointment of Maxine Henry-Wilson as the new minister of education and expressed the hope that she would place restrictions on students who can benefit from the government's underwriting of examination fees for four CXC subjects.
At the same time, Cameron made it clear that the JTA would be holding the government to its campaign promise of ending cost-sharing by 2005.
"Even though the government has not stated any criteria for those who can sit the subjects, principals are saying that if the students are not performing they cannot sit the exams and I am in agreement," Cameron told the Observer.
"We are saying that it should be dependent on the students' performance because we believe that that would be wasted money if otherwise."
Cameron, however, insisted that all children should be allowed to sit Mathematics and English "because these subjects are basic necessities".
During the general election campaign, the People's National Party had promised, as a counter to the Jamaica Labour Party's pledge of free education, to pay the cost of English, Mathematics, Information Technology, and one science subject for all students sitting the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) exams next year.
The party stopped short of stipulating whether students could be disqualified from the benefit if their academic performance was not satisfactory.
The CXC is the standard examination which most English-speaking Caribbean students sit, usually at the fifth form level.
Cameron reiterated the JTA's support for the administration's promised gradual phasing-out of the cost-sharing programme by 2005.
Currently, the government pays 85 per cent of public secondary school tuition fees and has said that within three years it will pay the 15 per cent currently paid by the students.
"We are still holding the government to their word and if they say 2005, we will be reminding them on the matter... but they have yet to stipulate (stages) for us to see if they are being met to achieve the objective," he said.
Cameron also expressed the hope that the new education minister will be able to work with the JTA and that she will recognise "the importance of the teachers".
"She (Henry-Wilson) is bright and sharp and we hope that she can make a significant contribution, we welcome her to the ministry," he said.
He also said that the JTA would hopefully be resuming wage negotiations with the ministry as early as this week.
"The teachers were getting restless on the matter," he said.