Students' council body urges JTA, Gov't to resolve dispute
The academic future for students and the pending examination period are some of the concerns the National Secondary Students' Council (NSSC) raised as its leadership pleaded for stakeholders to come to an agreement in light of the ongoing strike by teachers.
The mass absence of public-school teachers comes amid a dispute between the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) and the Government over wage negotiations.
In a press release yesterday, the council's president, Antonette Dennis, said that although the teachers' plight is understandable, students should not be put at a disadvantage.
"Though we understand the current discontentment of teachers, we hereby supplicate the JTA and other unions to desist from taking such actions at this particular time," Dennis said. "It is essential that the academic future of students be considered, especially as we approach the examination period. Any industrial action taken by teachers will be detrimental to the largest subdivision of the educational system - the students," she added.
"The council also urges the Ministry of Education to continue dialogue with the JTA and any other key stakeholder in a bid to expeditiously establish a mutually amicable agreement. This move will ensure that students are not deprived of their teacher-student contact sessions, and will further decrease the levels of anxiety being manifested among our peers."
Everton Hannam, president of the National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica, said he hoped that the issue would be resolved as quickly as possible and that plans be put in place to make up for valuable time lost.
"It's unfortunate that it has reached to this situation where the learning process of our children has been disrupted," said Hannam.
"I wish it didn't have to go to this level. I hope it won't affect any of the children preparing for GSAT (Grade Six Achievement Test) and CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate) in any significant way."
In the meantime, shadow minister on education, Ronald Thwaites, blamed the ongoing dispute on the stubbornness of the Andrew Holness administration and its disrespect for the island's teachers and other public workers.
"This Government has created an unnecessary crisis in the education system weeks before the GSAT exams and less than a month before hundreds of Jamaican students will face their CSEC sittings, in failing to arrive at a settlement of the ongoing impasse with educators. The impact of this crisis on our children and working parents is immeasurable," said Thwaites.