National College of Educational Leadership not duplicating UWI programmes
Principal Director of the National College of Educational Leadership (NCEL), Dr Maurice Smith, has moved to clarify misconceptions about the role of the college.
Responding to questions from The Gleaner, Smith indicated that the programme offered by NCEL was unique and did not duplicate offerings in educational leadership provided by the University of the West Indies (UWI).
"There is no duplication, as what NCEL does, does not exist anywhere in UWI or any other tertiary institution. These entities offer academic degrees," he said.
He also pointed out that degree programmes offered by the UWI focus on theory while NCEL offers a more practical approach to training.
According to Smith, "UWI offers undergraduate and graduate degree programmes which espouse leadership theory. Those programmes are necessary as they empower you with knowledge that is vital to the functions to be undertaken as school leaders. NCEL's programmes are practice-based and are also necessary as they develop competencies and skills."
Smith also indicated that the college has gained wide acceptance and no longer has an issue of defiant principals who had previously refused to join the programme.
"The average attendance rate is 90 per cent. The initial challenge was that some principals had difficulty following through on the requirements post-training. That is no longer the case," he said.
As it relates to the concerns that principals have in terms of being able to meet the requirements in the allotted time, Smith said, "The nature of competency-based training is such that participants are required to be on the job and demonstrate competence in the fundamentals of school leadership and management. They are given a term [at least three months] within which to fulfil these requirements. The time the college allots to complete the programme is in line with international best practice."
Smith also went on to address the issue for accreditation for the college.
"Though not a requirement for short courses/professional development/training, the MoE (Ministry of Education) opted to pursue accreditation of NCEL's in-service programme for school principals, so as to confer marketable value to the programmes and allow for commercial forays, where the college is enabled to underwrite some of its own cost, easing some of the burden on scarce budgetary resources," he said.
He also said that all principals will eventually be enrolled in the programme, as it is the pathway to being licensed. He also indicated that the college has been contracted by the independent schools' association to provide training for its school leaders.