Greater accountability demanded of school boards
Underperforming school board members will now be better policed by the Ministry of Education and Youth through the establishment of an online platform.
Administrative and leadership deficits at the board level have been identified in various reports as a cause for concern for many schools cited for indiscipline, poor academic outcomes, and other organisational challenges.
Board members and chairs have also been blamed for a lack of accountability among teachers and principals.
Highlighting their importance to the education system, portfolio minister Fayval Williams underscored the role of boards in the hiring and promotion of teachers and the undertaking of disciplinary action.
“Our boards should know exactly what the National Education Inspectorate report is saying about their particular school, and more than just knowing, there is a whole process that is laid out in that handbook that is being revised so that we can get it out in the hands of our board members to help them in the execution of their duty,” Williams said Wednesday.
The School Board Platform was launched by Williams at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.
There are more than 1,200 school boards in Jamaica, with each having at least seven members.
Williams said that the platform, which was created through the work of the National Council on Education (NCE), must be viewed within the context of a comprehensive strategy to transform the governance of public educational institutions.
“It will also aid in resolving governance issues and support the ministry and the National Council on Education in adopting a more targeted approach in assisting the boards of management,” she said.
Through the platform, initiatives are now being pursued to provide greater support to the boards of management.
Among the short-term interventions are the review of the school board handbook to make it more relevant and user-friendly, establishing a designated webpage for school governance, and links to relevant cases that have been decided by the courts on school board matters.
This will serve as a guide to the boards in making future decisions, publication of responses to frequently asked questions by school board members, and videos on board training sessions for future access.
“In the medium term, the ministry, in collaboration with the NCE, will conduct a comprehensive review of the current governance arrangement to explore ways in which it can be transformed in terms of recruitment and selection of board members, developing a pool of volunteers, and simplifying the board structure in making it relevant, taking account of the impact of technology on school board operations,” Williams said.
Some reforms will require legislative changes, she said.