Sat | Oct 21, 2017

School board shake-up coming - Education minister demands accountability

Published:Tuesday | September 19, 2017 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Ruel Reid

Education Minister Ruel Reid is contemplating establishing district boards in a bid to hold school boards more accountable.

In an interview with The Gleaner, he admitted that a few boards had to be called in during his tenure as minister, as there continue to be gaps in accountability and management across several institutions.

"We are very grateful and thankful for those who have served our institutions, but equally, there is room for improvement. I'm looking at some other strategies, possibly even district boards. We want to discuss [that idea] with the JTA (Jamaica Teachers' Association) to see how we can manage the performance of our boards, to make sure that persons are very clear as to what the policies are," he declared.

In responding to questions as to whether or not work is still ongoing to implement criteria for the composition of school boards, he said though everything might not be reported in the media, the ministry is always looking at ways to improve the standards of learning and school management.

The decision to implement criteria emerged from a series of controversies over the decision of principal Heather Murray to appear at the bail hearing of Moravian pastor Rupert Clarke, who was charged with sexual offences.

 

BEHIND-THE-SCENES WORK

 

"Not everything we do gets public coverage each day, but we are working. There are cycles of board appointments and we deal with the issues as they arise. A lot of issues that have come to our attention, we have dealt with them outside of the media. Boards are being called in and we are dealing with the issues," he said.

"We are taking the management of schools very seriously. Some persons will say that they are not paid, but we are grateful for those who have volunteered, but in so doing, there have to be some standards. They are educational institutions, so those standards need to be institutionalised. I have said very publicly that the minister must be held accountable,and [the same applies] wherever you serve in the system - principals and boards."

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com