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Stabroek News

LETTER OF THE DAY
Education ­ the last wake-up call

published: Thursday | December 23, 2004

THE EDITOR, Sir:

AS THE education debate rages on, let us not be carried away by every wind of doctrine. The task force has done a tremendous job for which they deserve kudos. However, let me state one fundamental truth about educational reform: That is, the culture of each institution must be flexible towards change. I strongly recommend to the policy makers that they first begin to pay school managers by performance. When these people know that their remuneration is hinged on performance they will in turn pressure their subordinates to perform.

Central to the effectiveness of a school is its leadership and that leadership is embodied in its principal. For too long we have played politics with the leadership of some of our educational institutions, to our children's detriment and peril. Let me warn all those who will be a part of the implementation process that the principal should play a minimal role in the appraisal of any teacher. There are vindictive principals out there just waiting for such an opportunity to make a kill at the teacher s/he dislikes.

The task force though an excellent attempt at educational reform, seems to have focused its attention too much on modernising and reforming the teaching profession instead of aiming for a wholesale change to the educational sector. This year, numerous problems in our educational system have been unearthed, yet no genuine effort has been made to correct the least of all problems. Jamaica's education system over the years embraces the theory of 'mass production'. Our classrooms have become dens of dope producing some unfinished products that demonstrate the use of mediocre materials.

I am confident in the ability of the relevant authorities to execute their duties without fear or favour, and to turn around the education sector in the shortest possible time. No longer can we afford to put self above sacrifice, friendship above prosperity, and politics above the power of knowledge. Remember a country is judged by the education of its people. This is the last wake-up call for us as a nation and we cannot miss this opportunity of setting our wrongs right.

STAKEHOLDERS

Let me plead with all stakeholders such as the school, community, parents, corporate Jamaica and most importantly the government to bat well in this exciting game. Put hands and heart together, time and talent so that at the end of the day we can all say, "It was well worth the while".

Turning one's attention to the funding of such reform, I am obliged to ask the parliamentarians to give up a third of their salary for this just cause. This would go a far way in kick-starting the project. Secondly, one could look at merging some ministries and closing some government offices abroad so as to raise a portion of the money. There should be greater collaboration between government and the private sector. I am sure corporate Jamaica stands ready and willing to make a tangible input.

I am, etc.,

HARVEY BROWN

harveybrown20042003@

yahoo.com

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