HEAD OF the National College for Educational Leadership (NCEL), Dr Doeford Shirley, has said the Ministry of Education continues to ignore the training programme set up to improve the quality of principals in the system.
Shirley said the programme has been given limited resources to work with, and his attempts to get the programme started have been met with much resistance from ministry officials who heavily criticised his strategies.
The NCEL was set up in 2011 as part of efforts to build a cadre of effective leaders and improve the quality of principals.
But according to Shirley, the ministry's reluctance to provide NCEL with the staffing necessary to its development continues to be a major problem.
He said he was contracted to develop the necessary formula that would create the change that would bring about improvements, but all three attempts to conduct trainer of trainers seminars, developed by NCEL, were ordered to be cancelled upon the change of administration.
"The problems are numerous, in that we are ready to start the training of principals as I was contracted to do, and we have everything in place in order for that to occur, and the problems now that we are facing from the ministry are insurmountable.
"If we are to do what they are saying, we would have to cancel everything that we have achieved, and not be able to move forward; and as expressed by the Ministry of Education, the education in Jamaica is in a crisis situation and NCEL was formulated to solve the problem," he argued.
Shirley said he was called to a meeting in August by ministry officials, who instructed him to start training with a core group of principals by December.
He said the invitation letters which he sent to a selected number of principals for them to participate in the workshop were criticised and the group of trainers he selected were not passed by the ministry.
"Two weeks after the letters were sent out, our goal was to secure 30 principals, but we have got 39 participants to say they are delighted to be trained, but yet I am criticised that the letter was too American," he said. "I have selected qualified persons from within the ministry who want to impact the changes they see is necessary, but now I am informed that the trainers are not qualified, and I must get a new set of experts. I will not, and I cannot do that."
Ronald Thwaites, minister of education, said he was not prepared to go into details on the matter.
"I am not entering into no argument with him. All I wish to say is that a programme for the training of principals and vice-principals will begin during the month of November," he said.