Teaching needs to be regulated and teachers have to be licensed in order to maintain high standards in the teaching profession.

Dr. Morella Joseph, the CARICOM Secretariat's Programme Manager for Human Resource Development told members of the Dominica Association of Teachers (DAT) last week that teachers require the requisite professional and academic skills and the mechanism that supports quality assurance in the teaching profession. And a teacher will soon need a license to be able to teach.

"We need to be registered and licensed to be able to practice; if you want to be serious about a profession it has to be in line with other professions," she said.

Dr. Joseph spoke on the topic "The Future of the Teaching Profession in the Caribbean" at the DAT's 17th Annual General meeting at the Garraway Hotel.

She also highlighted the need for an autonomous national teaching council to manage the licensing, registration and maintenance of standards in the teaching profession.

The introduction of local national teaching councils for countries in the region is an initiative of the CARICOM Secretariat; it introduced at a meeting held in St Lucia in June, 2010. That meeting, which was designed to establish standards for teachers in the Caribbean, attracted education officers, heads of educational institutions, teachers and trade union representatives of respective territories.

The objective of that forum was to utilise a participative approach to enable open dialogue and region-wide contribution towards the creation of a draft document entitled 'Guidelines for Establishing teaching Councils in the Caribbean Community'.

Its creation was based on the belief that the teaching profession is important to the socio-economic development of the region, as well as the rest of the world. That move towards establishing teaching councils will give the profession leadership and sustained quality, CARICOM believes.

In the draft document CARICOM states that in a partnership with the Commonwealth Secretariat it is leading the process for harmonisation of teacher qualifications among Caribbean countries. As Caribbean leaders move towards strengthening the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), nationals must prepare themselves to take advantage of freedom of movement within the Region hence quality teaching and learning must be assured.

Meanwhile, Irvin Jackson, a male teacher from the Pierre Charles Secondary School, was awarded the first ever Phenomenal Male Teacher Award at the DAT meeting last week. In collaboration with the Status of Women Committee (SOWC), DAT says it introduced the award to encourage the male teachers in the teaching profession.

"We have very few male teachers in the service, hence, the need to encourage those in to stay and to attract more into the service," said Vania Martin SOWC's chairperson. "When we look back at the Ministry of Education Excellence in Teaching Awards most of the awardees were female."

DAT received eleven nominees for the award, including Cyprien George, (Christian Union Primary); Kirk Anthony Edwards, (North East Comprehensive School); Elton Etienne, (Convent Prep); Egbert Jno Baptiste, ( the Dominica Community High School); Dwayne Drigo, (Massacre/Canefield Primary School); Curtison George (Grand Fond Primary School); Marlon Xavier, (Goodwill Secondary School); Mickey Thomas, (Thibaud Primary School); Daryl Frank, (W S. Steven Primary School) and Glenson Prince, (Portsmouth Secondary School).

Additionally, the DAT recognised five retired teachers at the meeting. They were Hartley Adams for providing 37 years of service to the teaching profession; David Kentish, 39 years; Marie Wilkins, 40 and more years; Brother Henry French- 61 years and Jennifer Wallace-Lafond- 40 years.