From 18 to 20 April 2017, the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA) brought together teachers from all over the island to discuss ways to improve their professional practices.
During the event, legal experts, children's rights advocates, law enforcement officers, social media specialists briefed delegates on topics related to teaching and schools. The participants were also updated on the use of new technologies, including robotics. Some 250 educators attended the conference, which was held in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
In his opening remarks JTA President Howard Isaacs told the conference that the Jamaican teaching profession has an important responsibility improving professional standards and education quality. The association is planning to step up its work on professional issues.
Conference keynote speaker Fred van Leeuwen, EI General Secretary, said that the commercialization of education services and the de-professionalization of teaching are the most important challenges facing the teaching profession globally. "Although the Caribbean has a proud history of promoting public education for all, when confronted with budgetary constraints, your governments may be tempted to open their national school systems to market forces. You must try to prevent that." Said van Leeuwen: "We are not against partnerships with the private sector. On the contrary, we need businesses building our schools and producing teaching and learning materials. Where we draw the line is where corporations start running our schools on a for profit basis causing social inequity or where they would invade teachers’ professional space and tell us what and how to teach."
The Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA) represents 21,000 members in all education sectors and is one of the largest EI affiliates in the Caribbean.