Source: Jamaica Gleaner
The People’s National Party (PNP) has promised to improve the lot of teachers should it take the reins of Government after today’s general election.
Noting that teachers are among the most important resources in the building of a strong nation, the PNP says that the educators will receive a $100,000 grant for home- office set-up, which would facilitate working from home to deliver lessons online in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PNP says that the next time it forms the Government, it would adapt, design, and implement a comprehensive “roving caregivers-early stimulation programme” to promote early learning and development for children in their first 1,000 days.
A PNP government also promises to ensure that caregivers with national vocational qualification level one or two training are placed in early childhood classrooms to assist children with special educational needs.
In its election manifesto, it says that a future PNP government would build out the incorporation of infant departments into primary schools where possible.
“We will establish the ‘Grant in Aid Programme’ for approved private and/or community early childhood institutions,” the party says.
The PNP says it would make massive investments to ensure that schools operate under a safe and healthy physical environment in provision of standards in bathrooms; classrooms; dining facilities; resources, including technological facilities and access; spaces for sports; dance; and the visual and performing arts. It also aims to improve fencing for the safety of children.
The PNP pitches to provide one meal daily for all students at the primary level, use technology to mitigate the negatives of multiple ages in single classes in primary schools, and improve systems to identify children with learning disabilities and intervene as is recommended, and improve performance tracking of student samples across grades to assess progress.
The PNP says it would increase dormitory facilities for students at the secondary level and restructure the secondary syllabus to create and sustain holistic adults and model citizens who are not only ready for the working world, but for the world in general.
The focus will include values and attitudes, civics education, sex education, computer and digital education, career education, parenting, volunteerism, entrepreneurship, and money management.
The party says it would increase the number of guidance counsellors in schools, and that teachers who volunteer for clubs and school societies would have their efforts allocated to their volunteer hours to benefit from a reward programme.
Under a PNP government, one child from each family that matriculates into a tertiary institution is guaranteed a scholarship under its first-in-family programme.
It says that the Students’ Loan Bureau (SLB) would not require guarantors for applicants; students would have the option of incorporating fees into their loans; and that nurses, junior doctors, security guards, and teachers would enjoy a one-year moratorium on student loan principal and interest while employed in the public service.
Students who volunteer with the ‘National Institute of Volunteerism’ would enjoy membership in a reward programme that includes special access to housing, education, and other government and private-sector benefits, the party says.
According to the manifesto, a PNP government would transform the College of Agriculture, Science and Education into a research-led university and the SLB would fund certificate programmes, nano degrees, and other courses to increase access to employment. A nano degree is a project- and skills-based educational credential programme.
The PNP also plans to facilitate increased opportunities for students in short-term employment both locally and overseas.
“As we build out and transform the education system, the next PNP government will also strengthen the teachers’ training colleges, which are critical to the backbone of the overall education sector,” the party says.
The PNP says it would establish a department within the Ministry of Technology focused on rural broadband and Internet access, ensure data-free access to necessary sites needed by students for research and learning, that all community centres would be equipped with free Wi-Fi for general access, and ensure the general affordability of Internet services by reviewing the competitive space for providers at both the wholesale and retail levels.
The PNP says 5,000 houses from the housing build-out programme would be allocated to teachers under the rent-to-own programme and that those having a student loan would get a 12-month moratorium on repayments after starting employment.
“For every year spent teaching in public schools, our teachers will receive a five per cent reduction on the original principal amount borrowed,” said the manifesto.
“The PNP government will make extensive investments in school infrastructure over the next five years, leading to better working conditions for teachers,” it says.
Teachers would also receive an expansion of study grants for professional development in priority areas and general skill improvements, the PNP says, adding that improvement and investment in leadership development for aspiring principals would be established.
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