Letter of the Day | A hungry teacher is an angry teacher
THE EDITOR, Madam:
Much can be said about the behaviour of a male teacher towards a student in a recent viral video that was leaked. While we condemn the act, we should also take an objective look into the working conditions that teachers face daily and how these factors may impact their mental health. Are teachers violent, or falling apart and breaking down under pressure?
There is an old saying, ‘A hungry man is an angry man’. Perhaps the same holds true for Jamaican teachers, who are increasingly losing their patience with the entire system. Many have taken off like the wind to greener pastures overseas. The word ‘exodus’ was a buzzword in 2022 regarding local teachers. Those who remain are for the most part suffering through a lengthy wage negotiation. Meanwhile, the prices of many basic commodities have escalated. Something has to give!
The president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), LaSonja Harrison, has been leading a valiant fight in the wage negotiations under this new compensation structure. Put the gas on it, JTA!
Indiscipline is rife among the youth. It is no secret that teachers in Jamaica are overwhelmed and stressed. This is not the first time we have seen altercations of this nature. There was an incident at Pembroke Hall High School and another at Denham Town High School, which were captured on cell-phone video. Both videos went viral and they were as hard to watch as this most recent incident. Is he (the teacher) as bad as he proclaimed, or did he ‘lose it’? I pray it’s the latter.
In a society grappling with a high crime rate, this can’t be it for our education system. School is supposed to be a safe haven. Teachers must exercise control, but I understand that they are humans with feelings and problems, some of which can be solved with money.
We have lost many of our teachers, who have migrated to other countries. Let’s not lose them to prison. The focus has always been on peace among students. Perhaps it’s time to stage an intervention for teachers to reduce the stress and curb the anger.
I sincerely hope that these violent behaviours will cease. And I hope that our teachers will finally be paid what they deserve. People don’t just work for the love of it, and we shouldn’t expect that of teachers.