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Ministry contradicting itself on appointment of principals – JTA

Published:Monday | December 23, 2019 | 12:11 AMLeon Jackson/Gleaner Writer
Owen Speid, president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association.
Owen Speid, president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association.

Owen Speid, the president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), has described a letter to the JTA, over the signature of Dr Grace McLean, the acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, as contradictory to the ministry’s current stance on the appointment of persons acting in the role of principal for two years or more.

The ministry has been insisting that all principals must complete the Acting Principal Programme or the Effective Principal Training to qualify for permanent appointment as a principal. Programmes are offered by the National College for Educational Leadership (NCEL).

“The letter instructs that all principals who have been serving for two years and over must be appointed immediately,” said Spied. “It also places a one-year suspension of previous directives that require that principals complete either the Acting Principal Programme or the Effective Principal Training before they could be permanently appointed to the post of principal.”

Speid, who had accused the ministry of bypassing teachers who do not have a certificate from NCEL for the position of principal and called for the policy to be discarded, had stated that NCEL served no worthwhile purpose.

“I have been agitating for years that NCEL was acting against the Education Code and also was not accredited,” said Speid. “The estimated $40 million to operate NCEL is a waste of taxpayers’ money. Only one subject that NCEL offers is not covered by The University of The West Indies Master’s in Education Leadership,” said Speid.

However, in a rebuke of Speid’s position, Dr Taneisha Ingleton, the principal of NCEL, said the JTA boss misunderstood the role of NCEL in the educational process.

“Mr Speid’s assertions about NCEL are erroneous, and Mr Speid is misunderstanding his role as president of JTA,” said Ingleton.

In 2015, former education minister Ronald Thwaites told The Gleaner that some principals who are in need of leadership training were openly defying instructions to attend programmes at NCEL, which was established for that purpose.

Thwaites recently expressed support for a stance by Karl Samuda, the acting minister of education, that all persons who are being appointed to the sensitive and crucial post of principal must be exposed to the NCEL programmes or their equivalent.