More teachers set to leave Ja - Ministers still locked in recruitment talks with Britain
The Gleaner - April 02, 2002
Knight and Whiteman
ANOTHER BRITISH agency is actively seeking the services of 30 local educators, even as preliminary talks about a structured teacher recruitment programme continue between Jamaica and Britain.
In an advertisement appearing in The Sunday Gleaner, the agency sought qualified teachers to work in London where there's an extreme shortage in the system.
Yesterday, The Gleaner spoke with Cheryl Jones, proprietor of recruiting agency, the Lady Bird Care Services, who said that the British Home Office has encouraged her to recruit the 30 early childhood to secondary school teachers here.
She also said that since Sunday, she has been receiving numerous telephone calls from interested teachers.
"There's a teacher problem in England. We haven't got any teachers," she said. "They're a few establishments which want teachers but they cannot open the schools until they've got adequate teachers."
Last year, a total of 500 teachers were recruited from Jamaica by Britain and the United States.
It was the sudden and mass recruitment of Jamaican teachers which drew the ire of Education Minister Burchell Whiteman, who, while on a trip in Britain, told Jamaicans that he'll be having dialogue with the British officials to work out a structured recruitment programme.
The matter was again raised at the just-concluded Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Coolum, Australia. Jamaica's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, K.D. Knight, held talks with British officials to carve out a structured scheme to replace the present ad hoc teacher recruitment drives.
Contacted on Saturday, Mr. Knight told The Gleaner that both parties have not yet reached an agreement.
"The talks are in a very, very embryonic stage," he said. "When they (talks) reach a point I can say something." He said he was unable to predict when an agreement might be reached.
However, Ms. Jones, a Jamaican living in England for more than 30 years, said she recruited five teachers last year and that she was unable to say when her recruitment drive would end.
"It depends on the Home Office because they are encouraging us to recruit teachers," she said. She added that the 30 teachers being sought are expected to start teaching in September or earlier.
Ms. Jones said successful applicants are expected to receive their work permits from her two weeks after she has processed and submitted their documents to the Home Office.
Time Plan, a British recruitment agency, is to visit Jamaica in July to recruit more teachers.
Geoff Brown, managing director of Time Plan's southern regional office in Yorkshire, told The Gleaner recently that other offices from his agency have their recruitment plans and could implement them at any time.
Meanwhile, the leader of one of the biggest classroom teachers' union in Britain, yesterday accused Prime Minister Tony Blair of turning a blind eye to the plundering of other countries' education system to make up for teacher shortages in Britain.
Peter Butler, this year's president of the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), told the union's annual conference that inadequate pay, poor working conditions, violent and disruptive pupils and increased workload, have cumulatively created a shortage of teachers in Britain.
According to the BBC website, over the past year, the NASUWT had received membership applications from teachers in 27 countries including South Africa, Russia, Poland, Iraq, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Czech Republic, Nigeria, Turkey, Cuba, Zimbabwe, India and Bulgaria.
According to Mr. Butler, schools in London would have faced "wholesale closure" if it hadn't been for Australian, New Zealand, and South African teachers.