The Ministry of Education in Jamaica provided funding for over 150 Spanish teachers to specialize in their language. However, they have not yet fulfilled their end promise of implementing Spanish-language classes at the primary level. The Spanish teachers are all trained to teach Spanish at the primary level, but so far, only about 76 out of 231 program graduates have found employment.
Spanish language translation and the ability to speak Spanish are important for an area surrounded by Spanish-speaking people, says Clayton Hall, president of the Jamaican Teacher’s Association, and if the Spanish programs aren’t implemented, there will be repercussions.
Misuse of Funds Upsets Spanish Teachers
The graduates of the teaching program are upset that they haven’t been able to find work, even after they were promised employment by the government. The Spanish teachers in the program were awarded scholarships providing that they spent three years teaching on bond in the public system. However, it has been over five years and the government has not yet provided the public system jobs because Spanish is not being offered at the primary level.
Being able to provide Spanish translation is not only a good idea for Jamaican children because of future business opportunities; it also exposes them to new languages and cultures, which is important for children’s development.
Clayton Hall is still trying to get primary courses in Spanish instigated into elementary schools, despite the hesitation the government has shown. He says that implementing the foreign language classes will fulfill the promise to the Spanish teachers and provide valuable learning experiences for the students. Education Minister Ronald Thwaites reports that the Ministry of Education is trying to place teachers in jobs, but they still aren’t utilizing their special training in Spanish to English translation.
Spanish Teachers Have Found Work Elsewhere
Only about 50 teachers out of the 76 who have found work are actually employed in a school district or a school setting. The rest have had to seek employment elsewhere. Some have turned to jobs like the Jamaica emergency employment program where they have been placed to work on several different projects.
It’s unclear why the Spanish language programs have not been implemented, and Thwaites has not been able to give a statement. However, he says that efforts are being made to offer alternative employment opportunities for the jobless program graduates.
The former minister of education, Andrew Holness, says that he is sad to see that the program has come to a halt. He says that with trade flourishing with Latin America, the country is in need of people fluent in the Spanish language.
Source: Jamaica Gleaner