|Teachers to get lump sum payments and insurance|
Royston Jones Jr.
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Jun 27, 2012
Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald announced that teachers will benefit from the first of two incremental salary increases and major medical insurance within the next week.
In April, after 10 months of tense negotiations over the financial aspects of a new three-year industrial agreement, the Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) and the former government signed the collective bargaining agreement, which outlined that 80 percent of the costs of the medical insurance scheme would be incurred by the government.
A lump sum representing a seven percent increase was allocated in 2012/2013 budget for the union’s 4,000 members, according to BUT executives.
“Provision for the insurance coverage for teachers has been made in the Ministry’s of Finance’s budget, and the scheme will take effect from July 1,” said Fitzgerald while speaking at the BUT’s annual meeting this week.
During his address, the education minister renewed the government’s commitment to establish a National Teaching Council within the next 18 months, something he said the BUT was now exploring with its Caribbean counterparts.
“A professional association will help to revitalize and regenerate the teaching profession and will provide us with teachers who are - and remain - committed, concerned and serious about enabling our students to realize their portential,” he said.
Fitzgerald also said the government, as part of its pledge to facilitate educational reform, is committed to placing more emphasis on students receiving the type of training that will prepare them for technology related jobs.
He insisted that students should not only be geared toward obtaining education certificates, but should also be directed toward acquiring qualifications and trades for today’s job market.
“Presently there is insufficient focus on applied academic skills to enable students to acquire hands on technology,” Fitzgerald said. “More often if students do have a high academic aptitude, their other skills and abilities are ignored. The culture of academic underachievement cannot continue because we are doing children and our country a great disservice.”
He added that the Work Based Programme and schools that have established ties with the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) would help to achieve this national goal.