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Principals must have leadership skills - Holness

Published:Friday | December 2, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Andrew Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has said that effective school management requires principals who are equipped with institutional leadership skills, rather than being adept at only instructional delivery.

Citing the mandatory National College for Educational Leadership (NCEL) training and certification for teachers aspiring to become school principals, vice-principals and middle managers, the prime minister said this move by the education ministry is welcome.

Holness was delivering the keynote address at the 2016/17 LASCO Teacher and Principal of the Year awards ceremony, held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Tuesday.

The prime minister said that one of the education sector's long-standing challenges is the appointment of teachers without the requisite administrative experience as principals and then retrofitting them with the skills to manage the schools.

Holness noted that each time this transition is done, the sector ends up with a three or four-year gap.

"We are entrusting to our schools the precious minds, the human resource, the skills and competence of the future, so the management of the school (is) absolutely important," Holness said.

The prime minister said the attainment of academic certification alone is not adequate to reposition persons for institutional leadership positions.

"So, the idea behind NCEL was to create a staff college where persons who were existing school leaders and persons who ... aspire to be school leaders had practical hands-on experiences of the standard operating procedures that the Ministry of Education had certified," he added.

In this regard, Holness, a former education minister, lauded the ministry's decision as a "good move that will strengthen the management and leadership of our schools".

The prime minister also commended the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) for endorsing the move. "This will make our education system much stronger," he added.

CAPACITY BUILDING

Meanwhile, education, youth and information minister, Senator Ruel Reid, said the NCEL is pivotal in the thrust towards capacity-building within the education sector.

He pointed out that the college's mandate is to develop leadership within the system by providing strategic initiatives to assist administrators.

"Scores of principals have availed themselves of this opportunity to further develop their skills, and I would encourage others to do the same," Reid added.

St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) principal, Keith Wellington, and teacher at the institution, Kerene Nelson, copped the 2016/17 LASCO Teacher and Principal of the Year awards.