LETTER OF THE DAY - Reform broken school boards

Published: Sunday | December 16, 2012 Comments 0

THE EDITOR, Sir:

An announcement aired by RJR FM on December 13, 2012 that a major shake-up of Jamaican school boards is coming is welcome news. This move is fully supported by Beersheba Old Students Association (BOSA), a vibrant and vigilant community-based organisation (CBO) and stakeholder in Beersheba Primary School (Government Leased), Newmarket, St Elizabeth.

For far too long, the entrenched culture of silence, secrecy, pussy-footing, and non-response has become the norm on some of these school boards, because they have failed to hold principals accountable so as to ensure probity, transparency, and accountability in daily administration.

One way to ensure that there is effectiveness and efficiency in the way in which school boards govern is for them to be able to differentiate between a good interpersonal working relationship between themselves and principals, in which they remain in control, not allowing principals to manipulate these boards to the extent where they actually become decision-makers.

Persons who are appointed to these boards should have a proven track record of their involvement and work in CBOs, through which they have been interacting with schools and see themselves as stakeholders in administration.

Chairmen of these boards must become aware that an autocratic, dictatorial and draconian leadership and management style will not work in the 21st century. Many of these chairmen engage in this leadership style in decision-making, oblivious that erudite career-oriented past students will not remain complacent while their schools disintegrate.

Chairmen of certain school boards, while interacting with CBOs, have been obsessed with using the pronoun 'I' in decision-making rather than the collective pronoun 'we', which refers to the entire board.

It is the opinion of Beersheba Old Students Association that the appointment of persons by the minister of education to school boards using the three criteria suggested herein will eliminate political cronyism and nepotism.

There are known instances where effectiveness and efficiency in certain school boards have been compromised by principals who become political activists rather than using their professional training to facilitate systems that are put in place to ensure that schools under their administration function in the interest and welfare of the entire student population.

Because school boards do not rein in the behaviour of out-of-control principals, the teaching environment in certain schools has become a battleground, where certain principals constantly yell and scream at students daily as their method to enforce their teaching plan.

VINCENT SAMUELS

Secretary/Treasurer

Beersheba Old Students Association

Newmarket PO, St Elizabeth

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