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$1.8 b. paid to absent teachers

regionalronaldthwaitesKINGSTON — Figures from the Ministry of Education have shown that the cash-strapped government forked out at least $1.8 billion to pay teachers, who left classrooms to embark on either prolonged study leave or vacation leave of up to eight months during the 2011-2012 financial year.

Nine-hundred-and-sixty-five million dollars from that amount have been accounted for.

However, the Portia Simpson Miller administration was, last year, required to scrape another $800 million out of the government’s coffers to pay teachers who went on vacation leave, bringing the total amount to in excess of $1.7 billion.

A memorandum which was released to parliamentarians yesterday stressed that the figure could be much higher as hundreds of names of teachers who ventured off on prolonged leave have not been accounted for.

The memorandum from the ministry, dated May 25, 2013, detailing the cost of study and vacation leave granted to teachers, comes amid a raging debate that was precipitated by an announcement last week by education minister Ronald Thwaites, that such privileges would be discontinued.

Study leave for teachers is not an entitlement and has to be approved by the Ministry of Education.

The minister with responsibility for the public service, Horace Dalley, has intervened in the dispute between the Jamaica Teachers’ Association and the education minister. (Gleaner)

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