Invest and stay, education minister tells teachers

WILLIAMS… I am in conversations with our financial services sector to begin to put together a programme (Photo: Anthony Lewis)

ROSE HALL, St James — Education Minister Fayval Williams has suggested to teachers that having a strong financial portfolio may help them resist the temptation to migrate in search of greener pastures.

According to Williams, she has started talks to explore ways in which teachers can be educated in the area of financial planning. However, her suggestions were met with muted laughter from some teachers attending their annual conference.

“I want you to be so successful in your financial affairs that when recruiters come calling, you say, ‘Wait a minute, I have my house already; I have my cars, maybe two or three; I have my church family; I have my community; I have my insurance plans; I have my financial portfolio; I know my risk tolerance; I know my time horizon; and I have my Lord and Saviour. Through Him all things are possible’,” she said.

Williams was addressing the final day of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) 58th Annual Conference, which was held at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in St James.

Teacher migration has plagued the education system for years, and 2022 is no exception. Earlier this week the education minister detailed measures to help stem the exodus, to mixed reviews from educators.

Williams, a chartered financial analyst with a Master’s in Business Administration, with a concentration in finance, spoke of the need for educators to be more financially savvy.

“We need [financial seminars] specifically for our teachers so we can help our teachers to realise the dreams that they have. We can help them with their financial planning. We can give them advice in terms of expanding income sources,” stated Williams, adding that she has already started the process.

“I am in conversations with our financial services sector to begin to put together a programme… so that we can bring more information to our teachers about their financial wellness. We want our teachers to be very conversant with terms such as their risk tolerance,” she added.

The comments were met, at times, with incredulous laughter from teachers who have consistently complained about low wages.

“Did you know that you should have six months of living expenses in the bank as a cushion?” questioned Williams, to which there was an outburst of laughter from teachers, who suggested that would be a challenge.

“I understand that many of you don’t have that and you probably cannot even see a way possible as to how such a thing could happen. But I want to say to you, have a deliberate and a consistent plan and the execution of the plan,” the minister encouraged.

She also urged them to look out for potential investment opportunities such as One on One Educational Services — a provider of online study courses to Caribbean markets — which recently had an initial public offering on the Jamaica Stock Exchange.

“This was such a historic moment. Here is a company that is listed on the stock exchange and it sought to put aside some of the shares specifically for teachers. Thirty million was reserved for teachers, journalists, and teachers took it up. Yes, more than that at the top end of it. There were teachers who applied for up to 1.6 million shares,” the minister revealed.

“This is something that I would like to do for teachers to ensure that you are empowered with this knowledge, this financial knowledge to help you. I will be appealing to companies to see what they can do for our teachers,” Williams added.

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