Frustrated! - Padmore principal wooed by overseas job offers; discouraged by limited resources
Keisha Hayle, the Padmore Primary principal who engineered the turnaround of what was once a failing school, is seriously considering taking up several job offers she has received from other countries.
She said she is also being wooed by more prestigious primary and preparatory schools in Kingston.
Hayle said she was frustrated with the lack of support from the Ministry of Education in her bid to upgrade and expand the physical infrastructure of the rural St Andrew school.
The expansion is necessary, as the school is now bursting at the seams. Hayle has grown enrolment from 38 to 251 students and has improved the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) pass and literacy rates to 100 per cent - results that saved the school from being shuttered.
"It's not like I have been silent. Everybody can see the transition the school is making from three years now, and nothing is put in place to expand the school and give me some classrooms and more bathrooms. Me must walk around begging like I'm blind? It's better I take up a job in Cayman that they offer me in their education department or go to Bahamas, St Lucia or Venezuela where them offer me jobs. It no better me do that and leave?" Hayle lamented to The Gleaner.
The principal said she has delayed announcing registration dates because she fears that she will not be able to provide spaces for the large number of children whose parents have been enquiring about sending their children to the school.
She said a promise of assistance to build an additional block from the Ministry of Education is yet to materialise. Hayle said she had difficulty securing additional desks and chairs for the students at the school. According to her, an education officer who was assigned to the school told her that her request would be denied because no one told her to grow the school. She has since received desks and chairs from Food For The Poor.
She also pointed out that she still has to pay auxiliary staff from her salary and is hard pressed to meet the needs of students.
MEDIOCRITY IN EDUCATION
She said things are so bad, makeshift stalls serve as a bathroom for the teachers. In fact, she said, she has to share bathroom with the teachers and the grounds men. She also noted that the school desperately needs to be paved and is in need of a staffroom.
Earlier this year, Hayle earned The Gleaner Honour Award - Special Award in Education for her resilience and creativity in transforming Padmore Primary into a viable school.
"I understand now why there is so much mediocrity in education ... . Nobody wants to go the extra mile or do what it takes, because the system is not set up for people like me. It set up to stress you, not to help you. I am afraid to open registration because everybody in the community want to get into Padmore.
"Where must I put them? I should have already have a new block under construction, because they see what is happening couple years now. The school has more than quadrupled and I still have the same facilities," the frustrated principal stated.
Hayle said she was resisting the temptation to take up the job offers from overseas, but her discouragement with the lack of resources at the school might override her patriotism.
"Somebody like me who want make a change, them prefer to stifle you, kill you joy, put on pressure. How much can one person take? When you get your pay and you have to always divide it with the school, how much can one somebody take? How long you think me must take it?" she asked passionately.
When The Gleaner reached out to the newly appointed minister of education, Ruel Reid, he asked that Hayle and the school board seek a meeting with him to discuss the issues.