CAPRI report recommends more support for Jamaican teachers, more guidance counselors

KINGSTON, JAMAICA — A recent report by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) is calling for Jamaican teachers to receive more training and support, and also for more guidance counselors to be engaged to bolster psychosocial support in schools.

In presenting the report, CAPRI Researcher Stephanie Sewell urged, “We need to attend to the needs of teachers. Teachers should continue to do their professional development and continue to be upskilled, especially as it regards to new technology and new techniques for remote learning.

“More and better material support needs to be provided to teachers. Teachers should not have to dig into their own pockets in order to find the resources, especially the devices needed for remote learning.

“Even though some devices were provided, this should be a consistent service that is provided.”

Sewell added, “Training teachers or student or pre-service teachers should also be deployed to assist supporting students who may have fallen behind.”

Additionally, she said teachers should be trained to “collect data and use that data on their classroom management skills and learning styles of their classroom students”.

But the report also called attention to the mental toll taken on teachers during the pandemic, with Sewell noting, “More and better psychosocial support needs to be provided to teachers.

“As it relates to children’s health and their well-being, we need to continue to expand the cadre of social workers, including guidance counselors, in schools and the external psychosocial support that is available to children.”

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    Some teachers even “reported feeling overwhelmed with the additional workload of having to redesign and convert and deliver lessons online, as well as frustrated from the constant calls from students and from their parents, who disrespected their boundaries and would call them at all hours of the night and into the morning”, according to the researcher.

    “They were also distressed by their inability to connect and meaningfully engage with students remotely,” said Sewell.

    Jamaica Teachers Association President Winston Smith corroborated these findings, commenting that “teachers are suffering significantly” amid the ongoing pandemic.

    However, he expressed optimism that the CAPRI report, which strongly recommended that schools and teachers be empowered, would encourage the necessary stakeholders to “come onboard and support the business of education in Jamaica”.

    Smith said he was confident that teachers could excel, “provided we receive the necessary support in a manner that would allow us to effectively execute the business of education”.

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    Links:
    The Caribbean Policy Research Institute “Time Out: The Impact of COVID on Education” report — https://www.capricaribbean.org/documents/executive-summary-time-out-impact-covid-education

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