Current Affairs

Current Affairs



Master teachers get duty concession on cars
New legislation soon for basic schools, day-care centres
Observer Reporter
Tuesday, September 03, 2002



THE government announced yesterday that master teachers -- highly-rated teachers who may opt not to go into administration -- are now officially eligible for a concession that will allow them to pay only a 20 per cent duty on the cars they buy.

Additionally, master teachers, will, effective April of this year, receive $112,536 a year in travelling allowance.

The benefits were approved by the Cabinet yesterday, in line with the 2000-2002 salary agreement between the government and the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) and announced by information minister, Colin Campbell after the weekly meeting of ministers.

The Customs Duty and General Consumption Tax regulations are to be adjusted to accommodate the motor vehicle concession to master teachers, bringing them in line with principals, vice principals and senior civil servants.

Normally, the duty on a three-litre or higher vehicle is 266 per cent and under three litres 126 per cent. At one litre the duty is 99 per cent.

There are now only 30 master teachers in the system, but the number is expected to grow as more are evaluated and certified.

The concept was first broached in a late 1990s as a way to keep the best teachers in the classrooms while rewarding them with pay and other incentives, in a manner similar to principals and vice principals.

Teachers who apply for the master teacher designation in their disciplines, are evaluated by technical assessment teams, community-based groups and officials from the education ministry.

Apart from teaching in their own schools, master teachers are expected to lend their expertise to other institutions and help in curriculum development.

Yesterday, JTA general secretary, Dr Adolf Cameron, welcomed the move to give legal backing to what so far has been "an administrative practice" to grant the motor vehicle concession.

Campbell, at the briefing, also disclosed that the Cabinet has asked the Chief Parliamentary Counsel to draft new legislation for the regulation of basic schools and day-care centres, which now operate with few rules and little oversight.

The legislation, according to Campbell, will address the "fragmentation and insufficient co-ordination of services delivered by the various ministries" to children in the early childhood age group.

Among the thing it will accomplish is the establishment of an Early Childhood Commission as well as:

* the certification of early childhood trainees;

* provisions for professional development in the delivery of early childhood services;

* the accreditation of training programmes;

* the co-ordination of services, provisions and programmes; and

* resource mobilisation, public education and communicative research.

According to Campbell, the measures were being introduced following the transfer of responsibility for day care centres from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Education as an integrated early childhood service in 1997.

The bill, he said, has reached drafting stage following widespread consultations that have been held with stakeholders to develop a common set of policies and standards for the operation of all early childhood institutions.