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JAMAICA NEWSWEEKLY For the week ending August 25th, 2006

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According to Ruel Reid, Jamaica Teachers’ Association President, sixty percent of the 9,000 public sector secondary school teachers are teaching in subjects they were not trained to teach. The outgoing president also says some primary schools are operating without enough teachers because some of them are not trained as primary educators. This lack of specialist teachers could affect students’ performance, according to Reid. According to JTA there may be a shortage of specialist teachers when school reopens in September, especially in math and science. The ministry of education and youth says there is no law to keep teachers from teaching outside of their specialty, so nothing can really be done about the problem.

The St. Catherine Health Department is calling for the abandonment of the Fort Augusta Adult Correctional Centre for Women after rats have overrun the facility. The health authority submitted to the Department of Correctional Services a report on the institution that highlights the invasion of rats, a massive infestation of roaches and flies, and the general unsanitary conditions of the facility. The document was written after a routine inspection on July 11, and deemed the facility “unsuitable for habitation.” The centre housed 178 inmates and a baby at the time of the report. The report also states that the health of inmates and staff at the prison are at acute risk because of the infestation of rats, threatening a leptospirosis outbreak. Commissioner of Corrections Major Richard Reese says the report is exaggerated and unsubstantiated.

Last year’s eruptions of violence at several schools across the island has prompted at least one student body to call on the government to improve security measures in secondary schools for the coming year. The National Secondary Students Council says students must be protected while they are on school grounds. Students are willing to play a role in reducing the incidence of violence, with counselors being trained in areas of conflict mediation and violence prevention. The government announced earlier this year that surveillance cameras in schools were being considered, but now says the purchase will not take place this year. Last year alone, as many as 10 school gangs were identified, many of them replicas of community gangs such as the One Order and Clansmen gangs operating in St. Catherine.

Britain’s Observer newspaper is reporting that the Jamaican-born Islamic cleric Sheikh Abdullah el-Faisal will be deported within weeks. He is linked to the July 7, 2005 bombings of the London transportation system, and is said to have influenced at least one of the July 7 bombers. His videos may have been seen by several of the terror suspects arrested earlier this month. El-Faisel allegedly encouraged Muslims to attend training camps so they could wage jihad on the West. He was jailed in February 23 for nine years, later reduced to seven years on appeal, after being convicted of soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred. He has been served with a notice of deportation, meaning that he will be released in weeks barring a successful appeal of the decision.

An angry mob incensed by the killing of a 78-year old woman in Bethel Town, Westmoreland on Sunday, took vengeance on the murder suspect by beating him to death. Reports are that pensioner Icilda Ramsay Allen had made plans to assist a neighbor in combing another woman’s hair, and when she did not arrive, the neighbor became suspicious and went to check on her. The neighbor found Allen covered under a blanket on her bed. Police were alerted and during a search of the house, found a black hat said to belong to laborer Errol Brooks. While the police were conducting their preliminary investigation, Brooks was seen coming out of the bushes near the house. The police tried to apprehend him but he escaped, and was cornered a short time later by citizens who proceeded to beat him to death. Several of Allen’s belongings were later found in a house where Brooks worked as a watchman. No motive has been established for Allen’s murder.

Three senior officers of the National Workers’ Union will meet tomorrow to resolve an internal dispute between them for the top post in the union. Clive Dobson, president of the NWU, is at the center of the controversy and stated yesterday that he would meet with Danny Roberts, vice-president, and Vincent Morrison, vice-president and island supervisor, who are also vying for the presidential post. Dobson said the meeting is to avoid damaging the union further and would determine whether he would contest the presidential post at the next month’s meeting. Roberts has refused to comment on the matter, and Morrison was unavailable for comment. Dobson has held the presidency of the NWU for the past 15 years.

Mandatory registration of teachers begins next month, ahead of the licensing of teaching professionals as recommended by a task force that was responsible for coming up with proposals to lift the standard of education in Jamaica. The registration of teachers is a requirement of the Education Code, but has never been implemented. A registry will contain information on qualification and employment history of teachers. The proposal has won the endorsement of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, which ended its 42nd annual conference in Ocho Rios yesterday. There are more than 22,000 state-paid teachers in Jamaica and many others employed by private institutions, but there is no central information source about them Teachers are mostly employed by individual school boards.

National Security Minister Dr. Peter Phillips believes Jamaica’s security forces are finally winning the battle against crime, after nearly a decade of record murder rates and runaway crime. The first eight months of this year saw a 25 percent decline in serious crimes. While violent crimes are down, the levels of carnal abuse are growing. The incidence of adults, particularly males, having sexual relations with minors, has increased by 31 percent this year. In 2005, a record 1,671 people were murdered in Jamaica. This year that number is 756, which is 254 fewer than the same period last year. The drop in crime is being credited to the Jamaica Constabulary Force, particularly the elite Operation Kingfish unit. In one division, St. Andrew South, murders have decreased by 54 percent since May, and shootings have declined 47 percent in that same period. This area includes some of the most violent communities, including Greenwich Town, Payne Land and Olympic Gardens. Other areas still remain troublesome.

Asafa Powell equaled his own 100-meter world record again at the Zurich Golden League yesterday when he clocked a 9.77 second time. Powell set the world record in June of last year in Greece and equaled that time in London in June of this year. He defeated Americans Tyson Gay and Leonard Scott to score his fourth consecutive win in the Golden League series. This keeps him in the running for the US $1 million jackpot for unbeaten athletes in the six-race series. Powell believes he can still run faster. Training partner Michael Frater placed sixth with a time of 10.16 seconds. Jamaican Sherone Simpson won the women’s 100 meters and several other Caribbean athletes performed well in their respective races.

Jamaica ended the six-day IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships with a gold medal run in the men’s sprint relay yesterday. The meet was held at the Chaoyang Sport Centre in Beijing, home of the 2008 Olympics. With a gold and two bronze medals from the women’s sprint and 4×400 relay teams, Jamaica ended the championships in sixth place, with two gold, one silver and six bronze medals. Top finishers were Kenya, China, the United States, Russia and Estonia. In the sprint relay, the team set a new national junior record of 39.05 seconds. The previous record was set four years ago at the World Junior Championships in Kingston.

DaCosta Cup champions Godfrey Stewart High School won the four-team Manning’s School Football Carnival on Saturday, showing their readiness for the 2006 season. The matches were held in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland. Other schools participating were Manning, Glenmuir High School and Rusea’s High School. Godfrey-Stewart took home the Howard Jackson trophy and bragging rights as they enter the upcoming season. The tournament was played according to a semi-final and final format, and pitched Godfrey Stewart against Glenmuir, while Manning’s and Rusea’s met in the other semi-final.

Sprinter Justin Gatlin agreed to an eight-year ban from athletics yesterday, according to officials. The agreement helped him avoid a lifetime penalty in exchange for his cooperation with doping authorities. He will forfeit the world record he tied in May when he ran the 100 meters in 9.77 seconds. At age 24 the lengthy ban would likely end Gatlin’s career. Gatlin tested positive for testosterone in April, five years after his first positive test, which was deemed an honest mistake because of medicine he took to control attention-deficit disorder. Under the World Anti-Doping Agency code, a second doping offense calls for a lifetime ban. But Gatlin was able to reach a compromise, and he can still appeal to an arbitration panel in the next six months to have the term reduced.


The weekly news is compilation of new articles from top Caribbean and Jamaican news sources.

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