Fri | Aug 23, 2019

Liberate the thinking of your students! - Educators charged to up the ante in the classroom at JTA Golden Torch Awards 2019

Published:Monday | July 22, 2019 | 12:12 AM
Front row (from left): Paulette Battick-Smith; Christine DeSilva-Campbell; Georgia Waugh Richards; Dr Garth Anderson, president, Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), Owen Speid, president-elect, JTA; Sharon Reid; and Jean Romans. Back row (from left): Ann Marie Hayles, Paulette Kennedy, Everton Walters, Judith Hutchinson and Clova Wright. The educators were specially awarded for having given 41 years of service to education in their respective schools islandwide.  Contributed
Front row (from left): Paulette Battick-Smith; Christine DeSilva-Campbell; Georgia Waugh Richards; Dr Garth Anderson, president, Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), Owen Speid, president-elect, JTA; Sharon Reid; and Jean Romans. Back row (from left): Ann Marie Hayles, Paulette Kennedy, Everton Walters, Judith Hutchinson and Clova Wright. The educators were specially awarded for having given 41 years of service to education in their respective schools islandwide. Contributed

The Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), in collaboration with the Tip Friendly Society and the JTA Cooperative Credit Union, hosted the 26th annual JTA Golden Torch Award at the Jamaica Pegasus in Kingston recently.

One hundred and thirty persons who have given 35 years or more service to education were awarded.

Addressing the ceremony, JTA president Dr Garth Anderson pointed out that the JTA was fully aware of the yeoman service given by those being awarded and paused to celebrate the moment with them.

“There can be no overstating the importance of teachers and quality education as we are the curators of developing a wholesome society facilitated through producing citizens who have the skills, knowledge, and values to equip them to function effectively in the 21st century global community in which we live,” Anderson said.

He reminded the educators that they are the shapers of lives for many. As such, he urged them to continue to see it as their duty to liberate the thinking of those under their influence, to go beyond the threshold of their minds.

Touched many lives

“You all have touched so many lives, and as a result, your influence will live on for generations to come,” he said.

Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Karl Samuda commended the teachers for their years of service. He also reminded them of the awesome task that they have and the influence they impose daily on the impressionable minds of their charges in schools islandwide.

“The influence you have on the future development of our children ... it’s an awesome responsibility,” Samuda said.

He added that as minister, he has adopted a non-confrontational approach to ensure that he has the full support of the nation’s teachers as he tries to implement strategies to better the education sector.

“I come here to work through a process of collaboration and cooperation in search of a better understanding of education as delivered in Jamaica,” the minister said.

Speaking about the recent PEP results, the minister lamented what he said was the wide disparity that still exists among a large population of the nation’s schools. According to him, if Jamaica is to be the great nation the majority wants it to be, then there has to be a change.

Samuda said the focus of the ministry would be on ensuring that every child gets an equal opportunity to start together and to be exposed to the same quality of training.

“I am not satisfied that some children are encouraged to take a route that does not equate with their natural abilities, but rather because there was not enough preparation for another route,” Samuda said.

He added that how the current system is skewed, it bypasses children who could become inventors, doctors, engineers, and scientists and suggested that the emphasis needs to change.

For his part, opposition spokesman on education and training Rev Ronald Thwaites said the JTA must be commended for the effort it continues to make annually to pull people together to honour and recognise them.

“If we are going to have transformational rather than incremental change in Jamaica and in the education system, it is going to have to rise from the base of experience in our schools from the collective wisdom of teachers, administrators, and advocates in education,” Thwaites said.

He reminded that change should not come from the top down, but rather from the educators who would submit to their accountability to the nation and showcase their wisdom that there is likely to be the transformed system all desire.