SAVANNA-LA- MAR, Westmoreland – Seasoned Westmoreland-based teacher Godfrey Drummond says if he becomes president of the 56-year-old Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JT A), he plans to tackle the ongoing migration of the island’s teachers to so-called greener pastures.
Drummond officially kicked off his campaign to vie for the post of president-elect of the JTA for the 2020/2021 administrative year last week, with several members of western Jamaica’s elite joining him for the launch held at the Hotel Commingle in Savanna-la-Mar.
Winston Smith, principal of Golden Spring All-Age in St Andrew, is also vying for the post.
Drummond’s campaign team is hoping to create history, and if he is successful, he would be the first JTA president from Westmoreland.
The event was chaired by Ian Myles, councillor for the Little London Division in the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation.
Drummond has received endorsements from Dave Scott, principal of Howard Cooke Primary and Wendell Downswell, Jamaica Football Federation’s (JFF) technical director for the Jamaica Youth National Team. Both shared the view that Drummond is an ideal candidate based on how he has, in the past, displayed commendable leadership qualities which have led to positive results.
“Whatever he is doing is coming from his heart,” said Scott. “As a teacher [Drummond will provide] much-needed attention, not just for some, but [to] all sectors of the teaching fraternity.”
Downswell was also generous with his praise. “The skills he has gained, the knowledge he has gained, and the leadership qualities he has gained through football… speak volumes [about] his ability to transition upwards,” he said, adding that these factors add to Drummond’s credibility and convey his ability to ably man the post of JTA president.
With his 12-point manifesto, Drummond is confident that victory will be his at the end of the election, which will be held in the second week of July. He said his first order of business would be tackling the current uncertainty surrounding the way forward for the new school year. He intends to forge a partnership with the National Parent Teachers’ Association, which he believes must be included in discussions on the way forward.
“After trying to get rid of the shift system for schools, I do not believe returning to the shift system is the way forward,” he said during his campaign launch. “What about schools like Savanna-la-Mar Primary [in Westmoreland], that are already on a shift system with over 600 students on one shift? What about the schools that are unable to expand to add more classes? It cannot work.”
He also spoke of his intention to lobby the Government to address the brain drain being experienced in the educational sector.
“Our teachers are in high demand overseas,” he said. “I intend to agitate for teachers to be paid at 100 per cent of the market rate compared to counterparts in the private sector. Teachers have the smallest houses in the [housing schemes]… they have to take taxis during the COVID-19 [outbreak], putting themselves in danger of contracting the disease. Teachers need to be able to afford good houses and reliable vehicles.”
He suggested that “rewarding teachers, principals, and schools” for improvements seen in students would play a role in making the system more favourable for educators.
Drummond began his teaching career in 2000 when he started working at the Petersfield Primary and Infant School, where he has remains to date.
“I entered the profession by chance. When I graduated from Manning’s I got a job there as a lab technician. While there, on several occasions I was asked by general science teacher Miss Gopaulsingh to teach her class. I developed a love for the classroom,” he explained.
After two decades in the field of education, he believes he can help to make a change as he understands the plight of the teachers.
Owen Speid is the current president of the JTA.
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