Jamaican teachers in US face uncertain future


My Advice to Jamaican Teachers:

The article above caught my attention as I turned the pages of the Jamaica Observer and I am deeply touched by the plight of these teachers.

I worked with the Ministry of Education in Jamaica for a number of years and decided to retire. Their records showed two years less than the number of years I had worked. When I contacted the Ministry, I was informed that they had no records of the first two years of my employment. I immediately contacted the school I worked in 1977 but the records for those years had been destroyed by hurricane. This would have been very devastating if I had not stored my personal records including my pay advice, appointment letters, and letters granting vacation leave.

I panicked at first because this would have serious implications on the calculations of my pension but I was consoled by the fact that I had saved all my cheque stubs (pay advice) over the forty years that I worked as a teacher.

When I entered the teaching profession in 1977, I was excited because as a child, my goal was to be a teacher. Now that I had accomplished that goal, I decided to save each month’s “pay advice” as a souvenir. So I got a little box and secured this important document. I also stored every letter I received from the Ministry of Education. Little did I know that this little box would be a treasure forty years later.

As a principal, I witnessed several principals who returned to my school for evidence to show that they were employed at the school because Ministry of Education could not find their files. Some were lucky because their names were found in attendance records or log books stored in the school’s archives.

Some weren’t so lucky as they school’s secretary informed them that the records for those years were destroyed when the school was flooded during previous hurricanes.

So, I usually display my little box containing several years of pay advice at many of my staff meetings and encouraged teachers to do the same because they will find this practice useful when they reach the age of retirement.

After reading the letter from the Ministry of Education, I went for my little box and took out the first twenty five pay advice which represented each month for the two years that were missing at the Ministry of Education. I captured the image of each of them on my phone and emailed them to the Ministry of Education. This is what helped me to get the Ministry of Education to use the correct number of years in the formula which they used to calculate my pension. If I had not saved my pay advice each month, the number of years used in the formula would have been reduced by twenty five months and I would have lost a lot of money.

My advice to all teachers is to store all pay advice and correspondence from the Ministey of Education in a personal file.

I would advice teachers whose files are missing to search for tgeir pay advice at home or go back to the schools they had worked over the years to retrieve these records. Good luck Teachers.