Caribbean Teacher’s Unions: Rules and Rule-Breaking

 

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Virginia Albert-Poyette. Source: St. Lucia News Online.

Article (re)defined by AJ.

Summary:

Caribbean teachers unions have called for the resignation of Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyette as General Secretary of the Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT) because she accepted a position with Education International, thus breaching the CUT’s constitutional mandate regarding board members’ employment. In a December 2, 2015 article, St. Lucia News Online examines this story from their perspective.

Other articles from The Jamaica GleanerThe Jamaica Teacher’s Association, and St. Lucia News Online contextualize teacher experiences in the Caribbean, and speak to the role that unions play in encouraging teacher activism in the face of government austerity.

Comments:

Caribbean teachers in former European colonies tend to be highly unionized because public school teaching offers low wages and a relatively low status. Jamaican teachers must contend with salary freezes predicated on current IMF agreements, and although the IMF recently agreed to loosen financial restraints which would potentially provide “an opportunity to increase public spending on capital outlays that boost growth and job creation”, teachers’ salaries have continued to suffer. In response, Jamaican teachers, through union support, have employed various forms of activism in order to force a government response. Continue reading

Sino-Jamaican Relations: Implications for Politics, Education and Employment

Article (re)defined by AJ.

Summary:

A recent news story on CVM (a popular Jamaican television station) highlights the plight of 40 Jamaican construction workers on a Chinese owned work site who are protesting exploitive labor practices and low wages. The workers feel they are treated with a lack of dignity, and that the Jamaican government does not respond to their concerns.

The second story was published in the Jamaican Gleaner on November 1, 2015. Economist Densil Williams discusses China’s slowing economy and the potential effects on Jamaica’s economic growth and election outcomes.

Comments:

In recent years, Chinese neocolonial endeavors have begun to shape Jamaica’s economy, environment, and education in significant ways. Through partnerships, Chinese interests have invested in Jamaican education and social services through infrastructure grants, but there are questions about the true nature of China’s neocolonial interest in Jamaica and whether the Jamaican people will truly benefit from sustained interactions between the countries. Continue reading

Study Abroad in Russia—Scholarships for Jamaican Students from Mining Regions

Article (re)defined by AJ.

Summary:

Mining company UC Rusal has resumed large scale bauxite mining activities in Jamaica. In a Jamaica Gleaner newspaper article dated September 8, 2015, this resumption is discussed from an economic perspective with focus given to increased employment opportunities and potential income from bauxite production.

The Jamaica Observer focuses on the educational significance of UC Rusal’s presence in Jamaica in an article dated November 24th of this year. They highlight a new UC Rusal scholarship program for Jamaican students from mining regions. These students will have the opportunity to study STEM subjects in Russia, and are expected to return to Jamaica to “contribute” once they graduate.

Comments:

Jamaica has a long history of bauxite mining which has seen sixty years of foreign-owned companies’ sustained interests in the country’s natural resources. While revenue from bauxite has spurred infrastructural development, there have also been major concerns about environmental degradation and health issues related to mining activities. In addition, much of the actual revenue from bauxite mining and alumina production does not stay in Jamaica. Continue reading

Pathologizing Poverty—Family Interactions and Academic Success in Urban Black Communities

Source: The New York Times.

Source: The New York Times.

Article (re)defined by AJ.

Summary:

The first article was published by the Jamaica Information Service (JIS)—the official news and communication agency of the Jamaican Government—on October 31, 2015. It highlights a study on educational achievement and student behavior and connects both to poor parenting.

The second article is a blog post published on edweek.org on October 29, 2015. In the article, Nancy Flanagan, a former educator and current consultant, criticizes the tendency to blame parents for student failure. She advocates for mutual responsibility from all adult shareholders.

Comments:

A recurring thread in educational discourse is the deficitizing of poor and marginalized students of color and their families. Families that do not conform to normative middle-class standards are pathologized and become scapegoats for student underachievement, while broken systems that discriminate against and underserve students are excused. Essentially, it is easier to blame disempowered parents than to admit that supposedly neutral social systems contribute to this very disempowerment. Continue reading

Shakespeare in Jamaica- Bringing the Canon Closer to “Yaad”

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Source: The Jamaica Gleaner.

Article (re)defined by AJ.

Summary:

In a Gleaner article dated September 20, 2015, the writer highlights a local Shakespeare festival for high school students. The festival aims to make Shakespeare’s works more accessible to Jamaican students, who study his plays in preparation for national exams. The winners will participate in a drama competition in Britain.

Comments:

Within the canon of “great” works of English literature, there is arguably no author as prolific and well-respected as William Shakespeare—this, despite over 400 years of meaningful works of literature since his death. It is no surprise, therefore, that the Jamaica National Building Society has sponsored a national Shakespeare festival for Jamaican students. Continue reading