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Thwaites to turn up heat on principals

Published: Saturday | December 21, 2013 Comments 0
Andrew Holness, opposition leader
Andrew Holness, opposition leader
Education Minister Ronald Thwaites
Education Minister Ronald Thwaites

Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter

Action may be taken against those principals who are refusing to upgrade their skills through the courses being offered by the National College for Educational Leadership (NCEL).

Education Minister Ronald Thwaites expressed disappointment with those school principals who, he said, have refused to make use of the professional development programmes the NCEL has on offer.

Thwaites told the Parliament on Tuesday that his ministry would be moving to take action against principals who refused to participate in the programmes geared at enhancing the capacity of school leaders to manage their institutions.

"I will place on record the fact that the ministry has written to the boards of management of those schools and will be proceeding with further action," Thwaites said.

Thwaites' comments were made in light of the most recent National Education Inspectorate (NEI) report, which indicated that 41 per cent of 304 schools lacked effective leadership, with another four per cent requiring immediate management support.

The minister said the situation would not be allowed to continue and the ministry would have to intervene in those schools found wanting.

"We cannot sit by and allow the future of Jamaica's children to be jeopardised by weak school leaders who continue to shun the capacity-building opportunities being provided," said Thwaites.

He said that during the upcoming legislative year, the ministry would be seeking additional powers to get more involved in the operations of poor-performing schools.

He said 252 principals were given training in school management for this year.

PRINCIPAL RECRUITMENT

The NCEL is recruiting 50 persons to enter its aspiring principals' programme.

The NEI report noted that only one of the 304 primary and secondary schools investigated, between September last year and March this year, had exceptionally high leadership; 26 had good leadership, and 139 were being managed satisfactorily.

The report further stated that of the 674 schools investigated between September 2010 and March 2013, 54 per cent were ineffective.

Andrew Holness, opposition leader and spokesman on education, said it was time for schools to be viewed and operated as businesses that required effective management and leadership.

"In the present system, a good teacher is promoted to a principal, which then requires us to now to go and retrofit a good teacher with good management skills for that teacher to transition from being an instructional leader to being the executive, or the chief executive officer, of the literal business that he or she would have to operate," Holness said.

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