Jamaica
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Fewer teachers resigned in first 6 months of 2023 than in 2022 Loop Jamaica

Minister of Education and Youth Fayval Williams says there has been a 43 per cent reduction in the number of teachers who’ve resigned between January to June this year, compared to the same period last year.

Williams made the announcement at a post-Cabinet press briefing on Wednesday as she sought to allay fears that there’s a potential teacher migration crisis looming.

Numerous advertisements for job vacancies in local schools have increased fears among stakeholders of a purported exodus of teachers, but Williams said, based on her ministry’s data, that is not supported by facts.

“In terms of our own internal figures, when we look at the period January 2022 to June 2022, and we compare that with the same period–January 2023 to June 2023–we’re seeing a 43 per cent decline in the number of resignations reported,” Williams said.

“So, in January to June 2022, our internal figures show 506 resignations (of teachers) versus 287 (this year),” she added.

The minister said the public should expect what she referred to as “teacher turnover” on an annual basis, as it happens in other industries where persons either leave their current jobs to migrate, find new employment in other sectors, pursue entrepreneurship, or retire.

“Annually in the teaching sector, we have the added fact that other sectors do not have, that a certain percentage of our teachers go off every year on their earned vacation leave for either four months or eight months,” Williams explained.

Public school teachers receive four months vacation leave after serving in the sector for five years, while others earn eight months vacation leave after serving for 10 years, the minister reported.

Williams said 1,664 teachers went off on vacation leave for four months or eight months or retired this time last year.

“This represents about seven per cent of the cadre of 25,000 teachers across the education system,” she revealed.

“This year, approximately 2,300 teachers have earned their four months or eight months leave, or retirement, and (they) will be proceeding on their four months or eight months leave, or retirement,” she added.

The education minister disclosed that the annual cost of paying replacement teachers while teachers are on vacation is approximately $3.1 billion.

In assessing the advertisements for educators in local newspapers, which have caused unease among sections of the public, Williams said “many” of the advertisements are for teachers to fill in for four months or eight months.

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As of Tuesday, she outlined that 20 per cent of the advertisements in newspapers were for clear teaching vacancies, and 34 per cent of the positions were for teachers to fill in for four months or eight months, temporary positions, or contract positions.

Another 46 per cent of the teaching jobs advertised did not indicate whether the positions were temporary or clear vacancies.

Meanwhile, Williams took aim at the creator of one social media video highlighting the job vacancies for teachers in local public schools.

“Some of the ads were repeated in the same video, apparently to make some of the ads more than they are.

“Obviously, I can’t prevent persons from creating their own news, but at the very least, we would expect persons to be truthful,” she lamented.