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Put qualified people on school boards -- Skeffery

Published:Friday | July 3, 2015 | 1:29 PM
Wensworth Skeffery

If it were left up to Senator Wensworth Skeffery, every board member for secondary schools would have a lawyer, a financial expert, and a chairman who has knowledge of educational management and leadership.

Opening the State of the Nation Debate in the Senate last Friday, Skeffery argued for a change in the status quo with respect to school boards.

"In today's Jamaica, given the huge responsibility rightly given to the boards with respect to the management of schools, I put it to you that the present composition of school boards is outdated and cannot effectively achieve the quality governance that is needed," Skeffery said.

"Without good governance within our schools, it will be very difficult to achieve the quality output in keeping with the reform agenda we all desire within our education system," he added.

The government senator noted that there are no specific guidelines with respect to the skill set of persons to must be appointed to boards.

"This is a weakness as a board can be duly constituted, but lacks the quality persons to effectively advance the quality of governance needed," the senator said.

amend code of regulations

He proposed that the code of regulations be amended to ensure that an individual with financial training be appointed to boards, as well as for a place to be reserved for an attorney-at-law.

As for the chairman, Skeffery said there must be a clear set of criteria that the person must satisfy in order for him or her to be so appointed to the position.

"Such an individual must have specific knowledge in educational management and leadership, as well as intimate knowledge as to the role of an instructional leader and the various acts that govern the education sector," the government member said.

A maximum of eight persons make up school boards at the primary level, while up to 15 persons may be appointed at the secondary level.

For Skeffery, more spaces are needed at the primary level. He also said the State should consider zoning schools which are in close proximity of each other, and have a board of management on a cluster basis.

"These schools are already assigned to clusters, hence it would be in line with that structure. This will increase efficiency, share best practice and build the collaborative spirit within communities and ultimately increase the quality output," Skeffery said.