JTA concerned about tragic death of teachers, students

Publication Date: 
Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) has expressed concern about the tragic death of five teachers and six students since the reopening of schools in September.

The JTA's concerns were experssed at a 'vigil of reflection and remembrance' at its head offices in downtown Kingston, yesterday.

The vigil was prompted by Monday's death of seven-year-old Benjamin Bair, who was crushed to death by a garbage truck at his school — Clan Carthy Primary in Kingston.

A parent who had been reportedly leaving her car was also hit by the truck and suffered a fractured leg.

General secretary of the JTA, Byron Farquharson, said that there has been great concern at the JTA about the frequency of the tragedies which have been involving both teachers and students since the start of this year.

“Death is a natural part of life so we are not here saying people should not die. We are talking about tragedy and in a sense sometimes the frequency.

“About three years ago when we started the new school year we noticed we were constantly hearing that one more teacher somewhere across the island passed out, most times suddenly, not necessarily tragically, and we noted that that pattern has started again since this school year.

“... The youngster from Hope Valley who was washed away was buried on Sunday, and then on Monday the student from Clan Carthy Primary,” he said.

In the meantime, president of the JTA, Owen Speid, noted that the most recent incident hit home for him as he had lost his son who was at the time the same age as young Bejamin Bair.

He encouraged teachers and students in attendance at the vigil to go forward with God because the only way to ensure we have longevity is to go with prayer.

“I believe that God is good. The JTA is a Godly body and we begin everything with prayer,” he said, while noting that there are plans to host vigils right across the regions in the island.

He also urged teachers to preserve their sanity in the classrooms and to take care of their health.

“I am charging you to listen to your bodies. You only have one body and when that it is depleted you can get no more.

“As you go about teaching these days, it is more and more difficult. There is the argument out there right now about whether or not they (administrators) should be locking out students at the gate; we know the policy of the Government but at the same time schools are getting more difficult to run and it is on administrations to do something. And, while some of those things are not desirable, sometimes they are pushed to the limit,” he said.


From left: Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) President Owen Speid and Reverend Clara Marshall at yesterday's vigil, held at the JTA's head office in Kingston. (Photo: Michael Gordon)

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