SECRETARY GENERAL’S REPORT TO THE MEETING OF GENERAL COUNCIL
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2008
History was created on November 4, 2008 when Barack Obama, a relatively
inexperienced African-American Senator, pulled off the historic feat of winning the
United States Presidential elections. It is an immense understatement to say that for
the first time in the history of the world a black man will occupy the most influential
political office, that of President of the United States of America. It is a great time to
As we celebrate the election of Obama, we also are witnessing a worldwide financial
crisis like none experienced before. Most of the centres of industry and finance are in
a recession or on the edge of one. Jamaica cannot escape the impact of the crisis and
already there is a downturn in tourism which is our major earner of foreign currency.
Major job losses loom and the consequent rise in unemployment along with its social
As educators, we have to be concerned because dislocations in the wider society have
direct impact on the behaviour of some of the students that we seek to engage in
learning experiences in our classrooms.
It is in this context that I join the President in welcoming members to this the second
regular meeting of the General council for the conference year. It is now more than
any other time that we need to become even more united so that we can be part of
the solution to the many challenges we will certainly face in the months that lie ahead.
Yes we can be a part of the efforts to bring about the change we believe in.
I encourage all of us to fully participate in the deliberations that will take place at this
2.0 SALARY NEGOTIATIONS
The delegates at the Special Conference held on October 25, 2008 by a large majority
voted to accept the final offer from government on salaries and benefits for the 2008
– 2010 contract period for teachers in the public education system. The package
presented to the delegates included recommendations from the consultants from the
Study to bring the salaries of teachers to within 80% of comparable positions in the private
sector as per the Heads of Agreements signed in October 2006.
The decision having been taken to accept the offer, the new Heads of Agreement
between the Government and the JTA was signed on Monday, October 27, 2008.
Details of the Agreement are in the documents laid on the Table at this meeting.
We wish to thank the Presidents, the Chairman of the Salaries and Conditions of
Service Committee, and the Negotiating Team for the many hours of hard work and
dedication over the many months that have resulted in “an offer with which we can live”,
given the current economic situation existing locally and internationally.
The Association is in regular dialogue with the Ministries of Finance and the Public
Service and Education to ensure that the items are implemented as agreed to in the
Heads of Agreement.
3.0 TEACHERS’ TUITION REFUND PROGRAMME
Over 1,000 teachers have benefitted from the programme up to October 2008. The
Secretariat at the Ministry of Education and the Technical Committee regularly
process the applications and selects the beneficiaries. The Ministry of Education has
asked the JTA to name a representative to the Appeals Committee which has been
established to deal with appeals from teachers whose applications were denied.
General Council is being asked to approve Mrs. Ena Barclay, Immediate Past
President, to be the Association’s representative on the Committee.
4.0 TEACHER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT REVOLVING LOAN
The report from the Ministry of Education dated September 2008, showed
disbursement of $82,000,000.00 to 239 teachers. Fifty-seven (57) applications had
been declined and an additional 33 applications approved but no funds disbursed.
The credit score was the main reason for those applications declined.
5.0 CONTACT TEACHERS’ SEMINARS
Seminars were held in all parishes except for those in the North East Region which
participated in the Contact Teacher Training Institute. The attendance at the
seminars was average and above.
6.0 CONTACT TEACHER TRAINING INSTITUTE
The Institute was held at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort and Spa on November
14 and 15, 2008. One hundred and sixty (160) Contact Teachers from the parishes in
the North East Region participated in the Institute. In addition to the JTA staff,
Presenters were from the Disputes Resolution Foundation and the Hugh Lawson
Shearer Trade Union Education Institute. The consensus was that the Institute was
very successful. The Contact Teachers’ fully participated in all the sessions.
We must congratulate Past President Hopeton Henry for conceptualizing the activity
and Mr. Patrick Smith and other members of staff who contributed to its successful
The intention is to replicate the Institute in the other regions given the success of the
one just ended.
7.0 NEW TEACHER ORIENTATION SEMINARS
Seminars have been held in all 14 parishes with a total of 859 new teachers attending.
Five hundred and seventy-one (571) of the teachers completed registration forms to
become members of the JTA.
A significant feature of the workshop was the presentation of a copy of the
Handbook for Beginning Teachers to each participant. This handbook was
compiled by the Secretary Professional Services. We congratulate her for this
publication. It is a work in progress and comments are welcomed so that any
necessary additions and amendments may be made for the second edition.
8.0 ROLL OF HONOUR AWARD CEREMONY
The ceremony was held on November 6, 2008 at the Hilton Kingston Hotel. Among
those in attendance were His Excellency the Most Honourable Professor Sir Kenneth
Hall and the Most Honourable Lady Hall. The Guest Speaker was Honourable Bruce
Golding, Prime Minister.
Mr. Ray Howell, Past President and Principal, Edith Dalton-James High School was
the recipient of the 2008 award. The Association congratulates Mr. Howell for his
contribution to the JTA, education and community development.
The Association again records its appreciation to Berger Paints Limited for its
continued support of the Award through sponsorship of the presentation ceremony.
9.0 PRESIDENTS’ SCHOLARSHIP
Three members pursuing graduate programmes will be selected to receive the
Presidents’ Scholarship. The scholarships are valued at One Hundred Thousand
Dollars ($100,000.00) each. The intention was to make the selections before this
meeting of General Council but the closing date was extended because of the limited
number of applications received.
The scholarships are open to persons pursuing accredited programmes (full-time or
part time). Selection should take place by early January 2009.
10.0 FUNCTION TO NAME THE J.T.A. BUILDING AT 2 ST. JAMES
STREET, MONTEGO BAY
The function to name the JTA building at 2 St. James Street, Montego Bay, the
Wesley Hewling Building was held on September 28, 2008. The ceremony was in
two parts – the first being a service of appreciation at the St. James Parish Church
and the second the unveiling of the name. The guest speaker at the service of
appreciation was Professor Errol Miller, Professor Emeritus of UWI. The service
was moderated by Trustee Dundee Hewitt.
We congratulate the Regional Executive of the West Region, headed by Regional
Officer Tugwell, on a well organized function. Special thanks also to Mrs. Vineth
Lindsay, Regional Secretary, for her contribution. We were pleased that Past
President Hewling was able to be at the unveiling and to see the tribute paid to him
by the Association and his colleagues. The family was also highly appreciative of the
gesture from the Association to their father.
11.0 WORLD TEACHERS’ DAY
The JTA joined teachers across the world to celebrate October 5 as World Teachers’
Day. The theme for the Day was Teachers matter. A special Teachers’ Time
programme was dedicated to the observance of the Day. On the programme were
messages from the JTA President, the Minister of Education and the Director of the
UNESCO Regional Office for the Caribbean and Latin America.
12.0 HURRICANE RELIEF FOR HAITI
The Central Executive, at its meeting on September 26, 2008, approved a
contribution of US$1,500.00 to assist some teachers in Haiti. The contribution was
sent to the EI Regional Co-ordinator who had planned to visit Haiti from October 14
– 116, 2008. She reports that her visit to Gonives was like a horror movie. Cash was
delivered to 250 teachers (US$30.00 each). They were informed that part of the
contribution came from the JTA. She indicated that other communities would be
visited and teachers given some cash assistance. The situation, she reports, is very
desperate. It would be a significant gesture if children in Jamaica could collect funds
and send and assist their counterparts in Haiti. I put this forward for consideration.
13.0 EFAIDS WORKSHOP
Another Education International sponsored (EI) EFAIDS workshop was held in St.
Lucia, November 10 – 13, 2008. The JTA’s participants were Dr. Dorothy Raymond,
Senior Secretary Administration and Finance and Mrs. Veronica Peart-Johnson,
chairman, Study Circle Committee. JTA’s EFAIDS programme is co-ordinated
under the Study Circle programme and is considered to be one of the better
programmes in the Caribbean. To date, workshops have been held in all JTA
regions. It is hoped that the training will have a cascading effect through the
14.0 GREEN PAPER ON A NATIONAL WORKPLACE POLICY ON
The Ministry of Labour and National Security has prepared a Green Paper on a
National workplace Policy on HIV/AIDS. The JTA has been invited to prepare and
present a response to the document. Copies of the Executive Summary have been
circulated at this meeting. Members who are interested may get a full copy of the
document at a later date.
15.0 NATIONAL PARENTING SUPPORT COMMISSION BILL
The Government of Jamaica intends to establish a Parenting Support Commission
(PSC) to lead to the implementation of a National Parenting Policy. Copies of the
Concept Paper have been circulated for the information of members of Council and
the 2nd draft of the Bill entitle, An Act to provide for the establishment of a
National Parenting Support Commission and for connected matters, is available
for in the JTA Library/Resource Centre for members who would wish to be
informed on the Bill.
16.0 C.U.T. ACTIVITIES
16.1 4th Biennial Education Conference
The Caribbean Union of Teachers will host its 4th Biennial Education
Conference under the theme, Teacher Quality and Student Performance at
the Erskine Sandiford Conference Centre, Bridgetown, Barbados, December 3
– 5, 2008. The conference will be held in collaboration with UNICEF
Barbados. Some of the issues to be addressed are:
(i) Impact of migration on children
(ii) Violence and indiscipline in schools
(iii) Gender differentials in student performance
(iv) Transferability of teacher qualifications and professional recognition in
The registration fee is US$100. Information on hotel accommodation is
available at the CUT Secretariat.
16.2 Officers’ Meeting
The Annual Officers’ Meeting took place on November 8, 2008 in St. John’s,
Antigua and Barbuda. The meeting considered matters related to the
programme activities of the CUT and decided on recommendations to be
presented to the meeting of the Executive Committee which meets in
16.3 Meeting of the Executive Committee
The Executive Committee will have its first meeting for the second year of the
biennium, December 2 and 3, 2008 in Bridgetown, Barbados. The Executive
Committee is made up of the Officers and one representative from each
member unit of the CUT.
16.4 IDEA Network Co-ordinating Committee Meeting
The First Vice President, Marvin Andall, represented the CUT at the meeting
of the Co-ordinating Committee of the IDEA Network in Guatemala,
October 11 and 12, 2008.
This meeting was preceded by a Forum on Quality Public Education in the
Americas, October 8 – 10. The forum is organized by the IDEA Network,
Education International – Latin America, and the Caribbean and Latin
American Students’ Organisation (OCLAE). The topics for the forum
(i) Quality Public Education
(ii) Commercialization of Education
(iii) Evaluation of the “Education for All” process
(iv) Aboriginal and multicultural education
(v) Education Reform
(vi) Education and Gender Equity
(vii) Public Education as a path to social development
Mr. Ako Walker, Executive Member of TTUTA, also represented the CUT.
16.5 Commonwealth Teachers’ Grouping ad hoc Committee Meeting
The meeting was held November 28, 2008 at the Headquarters of the
National Union of Teachers (NUT), London. The committee comprises
representatives from the NUT, CUT, CTF, AIFTO, AEU and EI.
The meeting continued the planning of the Teachers’ Forum which will be
one of the parallel activities of the 17th Conference of Commonwealth
Education Ministers (17 CCEM) to be held in Malaysia, June 2009.
16.6 Assistance to Haiti
The CUT and its member organisations were informed of the grave situation
in Haiti resulting from the passage of four (4) hurricanes in as many weeks in
August and September. Our teacher colleagues and the education sector were
devastated. It will require millions of dollars to assist the citizens and
rehabilitate schools and other education infrastructure.
The CUT joined other international teacher organizations to provide some
assistance to our colleagues through CNEH, the teachers’ organization in
Haiti. The CUT contributed US$4,000.00.
16.7 CARICOM/Commonwealth Secretariat Professional Harmonization
The General Secretary of the CUT has been invited by the Commonwealth
Secretariat to a Commonwealth-CARICOM meeting on Teacher
Qualifications Harmonization across the Caribbean and the Commonwealth.
The principal purpose of the meeting is to ensure that in the movement of
skilled and qualified persons, “Skills discounting” does not occur as a
consequence of lack of familiarity, information and awareness about the
standard and quality of qualifications by the host/recruiting
The meeting will be held in Barbados, December 7 – 9, 2008. Mr. Doran
Dixon, JTA President who will be in Barbados at the time, will also attend the
16.8 34th Biennial Conference
The 34th Biennial Conference of the CUT will be held in Grenada, July 27 –
31, 2009. Details of the conference will be sent to CUT units by January 2009.
17.0 MEETING WITH THE JAMAICA CONFEDEERATION OF TRADE
A meeting with the General Secretary of the JCTU, Lloyd Goodleigh, was held at the
JTA Office on November 20. At the meeting from the JTA were the President,
President-Elect, Immediate Past President, Chairman of the Board of Trustee and
Secretary General. Also in attendance was Mr. Ray Howell who was invited by the
JCTU’s General Secretary.
The issue which led to the JTA’s General Council deciding to suspend its
membership in the JCTU was fully discussed. The meeting agreed to recommend to
General Council that it reconsiders the decision to suspend JTA’s membership in the
Negotiations with the BITU for Salaries and Benefits for the Clerical and Accounting
Staff of the JTA for the period 2008 to 2010 contract period began on October 29,
2008 with the clarification meeting. The BITU has submitted a 22-point Claim on
behalf of the staff it represents.
The JTA is awaiting a response from the union in respect of some items in the Claim
in order for an offer to be prepared and presented.
Marie Berbick-Graham, in an article in the Sunday Gleaner, November 16, 2008
suggest the following as the winning strategies implemented by Obama and his team
which created history on November 4, 2008. She suggests that these strategies can be
used by individuals and organizations to achieve their goals.
(i) Strategic Networking
(ii) Be seen and heard
(iii) Create a winning profile
(iv) Surround yourself with the best people
(v) Make your message strong and consistent
(vi) Turn negatives into positives
(vii) Make the technology work for you
(viii) Project your wish image
(ix) Recognize and engage your supporters
Let us UNITE AND SERVE
Prepared by: Adolph Cameron