Rush to recruit teachers

Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly - AYANNA KINSALE
Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly - AYANNA KINSALE

THE INTAKE of thousands of students to denominational-run primary schools in September has been placed at risk by the inefficiencies of a new-fangled system to fill teaching vacancies currently being administered between the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) and the Ministry of Education.

While Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly and officials at the TSC are confident a pending interview process will be completed in time for the new term, the anxiety of stakeholders from denominational boards reflects the unsatisfactory situation in which the State simply has been unable to handle the large number of applications for posts of this nature.

If interviews, which are expected to take place in coming weeks, are not completed in time, this will affect the intake of new students, because there is a standard ratio of students to teachers in primary schools under current rules. Potentially, thousands of students could be turned away.

It was only a few years ago that it was people wishing to become teachers who were turned away.

In 2021, the TSC announced it would no longer accept unsolicited applications. This was reportedly because demand for teaching jobs had far outstripped supply, and Dr Gadsby-Dolly noted a “dearth of vacancies.”

Even before then, in 2019, the then TT Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) president Lynsley Doodhai noted hundreds of applications were being received, “but there are no vacancies.”

Now, as the new term approaches, there are reports of about 65 teacher vacancies among the country’s 118 primary schools.

Such numbers are in theory manageable, assuming an efficient system.

But it is not just the question of volume which has contributed to lethargy over the years, a perception that is now fuelling current concerns.

Sometimes candidates have passed interviews but are not placed. There are also reports of the TSC holding its hand on issuing appointment letters because of a lack of budgetary allocations.

The ministry and TSC are due to meet this week, according to the minister. Yet even with the best systems in place, it is not ideal that interviews for a September term are to take place in June.

Be that as it may, we hope all the stakeholders, including the denominational boards, who need to be kept abreast of developments and have a say, come together to resolve this situation speedily.

And since the State has never quite managed to find a way to treat with the avalanche of teaching applications, we believe a review of how these applications have been handled over the years is in order, with a view to developing a permanent system able to identify and deploy talent in a timely way for the benefit of all students. That review must pay special attention to the need for the TSC to be reformed.


"Rush to recruit teachers"

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