Wed | May 31, 2023

Letter of the Day | Who is giving up on whom?

Published:Thursday | March 30, 2023 | 12:23 AM


‘If a laff a pap up’ is a frequently used Jamaican expression that came to mind when I read the opening sentence of the Acting Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education Dr Kasan Troupe’s statement in the March 27 edition of The Gleaner. I have admired Dr Troupe since the first time I heard her speak at a staff seminar many moons ago.

I would have said the same thing until I read the words, ‘I want to encourage you, don’t give up on Jamaica.’ It is that imperative part of the sentence that I find laughable. ‘Don’t give up on Jamaica.’ Dr Troupe, why should not teachers give up on Jamaica when Jamaica has given up on us?

Jamaican teachers are not paid enough to purchase properties abroad, hold dual citizenship, etc., as some of our superiors in the public sector. If they can stay in Jamaica and deal in US or other foreign currencies, why should not teachers migrate to those places that allow them to do the same since that opportunity is not afforded them in their own country?


As at March 28, 2023 at 4:28 p.m., not one member at my institution has received his salary. Forget the retro for a second. We have not received SALARY!

All our payees have sent the reminders of due dates for our bills. Some are now overdue; others become due within the next few days.

Yet you ask us not to give up on Jamaica? Teachers and other affected public sector workers will never give up on Jamaica. The land has never dealt harshly towards them.

What they will give up on is the oppressive, suppressive work conditions, the inability to meet their needs and the possibility of being similarly disregarded in the future as they are now. At about 11:56 a.m., it was explained that eleven bursar-paid schools in St Catherine had not been paid. Teachers in Region 3, 4 and 7 were similarly affected.

Some school’s faculty consist of over 100 hundred persons. Do the math. Can you imagine how many teachers have been stressing themselves and looking out for their creditors?

Here are the things teachers have been feeling, as aptly put by a colleague:

• Teachers’ bills will accrue interest but they should pay them (though the accrued interest is not their fault)

• Teachers’ bill will pile up but it is not the business of the Government.

• Teachers’ children most likely will miss a few days from school but the Government does not care.

• Teachers should pull from their non-existent savings and figure another way out of their situations.

• Teachers should have put down something for a ‘rainy day’.

• Teachers should wait until the Government is ready to pay them because the Government had to wait until teachers were ready to sign the MOU.

This is the understanding of many today. So the question is asked, ‘Who is giving up on whom?’


It is also said, ‘every action brings forth a reaction’. Migration is just the teachers’ reaction to the multiplicity of actions taken against them.

It does not look or sound good to listen to radio broadcasts or news reports that teachers have been paid. If teachers are paid, then who am I and the others who are yet to see one copper in our accounts?

Fake news is a real 21st century phenomenon. The powers that be need to present facts. Teachers would be a little more understanding if the facts were being presented.

As it is, they are being set up. How can it be publicly stated that teachers are paid but privately they are not!

Being called ‘clowns, ‘yam heads’ and ‘yam hills’ for not storming Jamaica House or the ministries of Education and Finance is not fair to teachers. They have not been docile by choice. They have learnt their lesson and realised that it is best to keep quiet so that ‘backra massa nuh lash dem harder next time’.

Patience in suffering.