Treat teachers better! - educator explains why she left Jamaica

March 15, 2018
The Jessie Ripoll Primary School seems abandoned as some teachers stay away from the classroom on Tuesday.

As the nation's teachers engage in a stand-off with the government over wages, an educator who left Jamaica to work in the Turks and Caicos three years ago, said it was low pay that forced her from her island home.

Kian Deslandes, 35, who taught social studies and geography at St Mary's College in St Catherine for 12 years, told THE STAR that the Government as well as school administrators are responsible for the level of migration by teachers.

In her Facebook post, she encouraged teachers to stop buying lunch for children or having free classes for them. Instead, she suggested that the Government and the parents should take responsibility for these things.

She said that too often, teachers are not treated fairly and they are not paid well.

Deslandes said that while she was in Jamaica, she was earning approximately $100,000 a month, which was not enough to cover her expenses.

She added that now she is able to do more things because she is earning more.

"I get to spend more time with my family, even though I have to travel to Jamaica. The best part is that I do not have to worry about money, or how I can pay for anything, because I get paid US$2,970 (approximately J$382,422) per month," she said.

In addition to the lower wages that she earned in Jamaica, Deslandes said the workload was unreasonable.

"When I worked at St Mary's College, my department had only two junior teachers. We took the pile of work. We had so many classes and we were expected to provide three pieces of graded work for each student per month," she said.

She added that the teachers were also expected to perform non-teaching duties, such as working in the canteen.

"It was too much to handle. On top of that, we were given memos for everything ... not positive ones, either," she said. "Right now, I teach grades nine to 11 and that equals 54 students in all. When I was teaching in Jamaica, I had about 45 children in one class," she said.

But Deslandes, who studied at the University of the West Indies, said adjusting to life in the Turks and Caicos was not easy.

"At first it was difficult to teach six children. I was not used to being able to move around in a classroom. I get support from the principal, he loves his teachers. There is zero tolerance to disrespect to a teacher. Things like this make you want to work," she said.

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