Wed | Jul 24, 2019

Education and politics not a good mix - NAF's Smith

Published:Tuesday | December 18, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
Zachaeus Smith (third right), vice-president of the New York-based Northeast Alumni and Friends of Godfrey Stewart High School (NAF), and members of his group stand together with Emily Lawrence-Ricketts (centre), principal of Godfrey Stewart High School in Savanna-la-mar, Westmoreland; Rajashe Baker (fourth left), the school's head boy; and Dane Sinclair (fourth right), the school's acting head of the Mathematics Department, following the donation of a SMART Board interactive whiteboard at the school.


Zachaeus Smith, vice-president of the New York-based Northeast Alumni and Friends of Godfrey Stewart High School (NAF), wants to see the removal of political influence from the education sector. He is calling for the creation of an independent commission to craft a long-term education management plan.

Smith made the call while addressing a handover ceremony for the donation of a SMART Board interactive whiteboard, valued at US$3,000 (J$384,870), to the Godfrey Stewart High School's Mathematics Department on Monday at the Savanna-la-Mar-based school.

"I'd like to say, for the record, that I don't believe that education should be in the hands of politicians. I believe there should be an independent commission, consisting of community leaders, members of the clergy, teachers past and present, and students, to make a long-term plan for education," Smith told teachers and students at the ceremony.

"The Ministry of Education has its role and it provides infrastructure, but as far as the nuts and bolts of education go, they should have nothing to do with it," added Smith.

The NAF vice-president commented on how political interference could potentially disrupt the smooth administration of schools.

"The principal in the school is a trained professional with years of experience, but he or she is at the whim and fancy of the board chairman who, most of the time, is a politician, not an educator," said Smith. "Case in point, the school has a vacancy for a teacher, the principal interviews three people, and one candidate didn't make the cut, but that candidate knows the councillor and the member of parliament, so that candidate gets hired."