Rural schools underperforming - NEI report
A baseline report released by the National Education Inspectorate (NEI) indicates that schools located in the Kingston and St Andrew region are far ahead of their counterparts in other regions on eight key indicators which were used to assess schools.
The baseline report represents an aggregation of data from four interim reports of inspections which were previously done for selected schools, in addition to data from 50 additional schools which had not been inspected before. The baseline report is expected to form the basis for regular school inspections.
The data presented in the report represents inspections for 953 schools on indicators which included leadership and management, teaching and support for students' learning, students' progress in English and mathematics, students' personal and social development, use of human and material resources, curriculum and enhancement programmes and safety, security, health and wellbeing.
On all eight indicators, the proportion of schools rated as good or exceptionally high was much greater in the Kingston and St Andrew region than in any of the other five regions of the Ministry of Education (MOE).
Of note also is the fact that the majority of schools rated as unsatisfactory are located in parishes with higher levels of poverty and in deep rural areas.
On the indicator of leadership and management, 47 per cent of schools were rated as satisfactory, 12 per cent as good or exceptionally high, while 38 per cent were rated as unsatisfactory. When broken down by region, the data indicates that 30 per cent of the schools that were rated as good in the area of leadership and management are located in Region one and, conversely, 48 per cent of the schools which were deemed as unsatisfactory are situated in Region two. Region two accounts for schools in the parishes of Portland, St Thomas and St Mary.
DEEP RURAL POVERTY
The Survey of Living Conditions lists Portland, St Thomas and St Mary as parishes with deep rural poverty.
In regards to students' progress in English and mathematics, only 42 per cent of schools were rated as satisfactory, while 51 per cent were rated as unsatisfactory. A regional analysis again shows that schools in Region one led the pack on this metric, with 36.8 per cent of them being rated as satisfactory and four per cent of them rated as exceptionally high. The majority of schools graded as unsatisfactory, however, were found to be in Region Two, a share of 43 per cent.
According to the report, "this data speaks to some of the regional disparities ... as well as provides a roadmap on the way forward for the reform efforts that are currently underway in the MOE."
Chief Inspector Maureen Dwyer has said that more research needs to be done to look at the factors driving the regional disparities.
The findings of the NEI baseline report echoes research conducted by founder and director of the Institute for Educational Administration and Leadership-Jamaica (IEAL-J) and Reader in Education at Brunel University in the United Kingdom, Professor Paul Miller. Miller, in a research paper published in 2014, argued that schools located outside of the immediate reach of the central officers of the Ministry of Education, what he calls the centre, are generally under-resourced and do not have sufficient support for principals.