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Schools still struggle with management, accountability

Published:Tuesday | January 22, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Recent research conducted by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI) has revealed that a number of schools across the country continue to grapple with management and accountability issues.

The research project, titled 'Prisms of Possibility: A Report Card on Education in Jamaica', and presented at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston yesterday, found that to a great extent decisions including staffing are still made at the ministry level, depriving school leaders of the autonomy and authority needed to effect desired changes.

Additionally, the research determined that very few schools provide the Ministry of Education with annual audited financial statements, and performance-accountability measures for principals, teachers and staff are obscure and hardly used.

no management training

The report went on to point out that most principals in the school system have not been trained in management and possess limited ability to develop strategic plans and monitoring mechanisms.

Lead researcher at CaPRI, Dawn Sewell-Lawson, while calling for more to be done to address the problems, noted that one of the issues feeding complaints of limited autonomy was the concern that some principals are ignorant of their powers under the Education Act.

"I had one discussion with one principal and he said to me, 'I have a history teacher heading my math department'. He said, 'I inherited it, and I know she is not doing the best job possible and we're not doing right by our students, but I cannot redeploy her'," Sewell-Lawson said.

"I said, 'Why not?', and he said, 'It's politics'. I left there thinking that the ministry must be giving them a hard time, until I realised it isn't so. When you look at the Education Act, you do have autonomy to do what needs to be done," she told educators present at the gathering.

She said this was one of the areas that would have to be given a greater level of attention to see "who is tying whose hands (and) why are the hands being tied".