JIS News

Education Minister, Andrew Holness has announced plans by government to establish cluster boards that will have responsibility for the management of the country’s early childhood institutions.
Speaking at the launch of the 2008 staging of the Kiwanis Club of New Kingston’s spelling competition at the Hilton Kingston Hotel on Wednesday (Match 26), Mr. Holness said this decision comes against the background of what he described as serious problems being encountered with the proper management of the institutions.
“That is a very serious problem that we face with the early childhood institutions, that many of them are not (being) properly managed. School leadership is extremely critical to the successful outcome of the education endeavour, and whilst we can attract good leadership to effect good governance of the schools, at the secondary level, and at the primary level also, we generally ignore the fact that the community-based schools, what we call basic schools, that they too need a governance structure to help them (to) manoeuvre and manage all the resource problems that they may have,” the Minister stated.
He noted that many of the challenges encountered by early childhood institutions “are relatively small problems,” which could be solved with the appropriate level of governance in place. He pointed out that while the government is obligated to seeing to the institutions’ needs, there is need for more input from the community, particularly those where the schools were located.
“The central Ministry has an obligation yes, but the community in which that school is situated, also has an obligation, after all, it is a community-based school. But the problem, often, is that the principal, who is the leader and probably ultimate leadership of the school, sometimes simply does not have the capacity to engage the community (where the institution is located) or other communities or persons (elsewhere) who would want to help. And all that would be needed would be someone or a group of people who would come into that school and assist that principal in organizing, developing, even writing the project to ask for the assistance. That kind of skill, certainly, is not always available to the 2,800 early childhood institutions that are spread right across the island,” Mr. Holness said.
To this end, the Education Minister urged organizations, such as the Kiwanis Club, to assist in the management of the institutions, when the cluster board initiative commences, citing the importance of voluntary service.
“We are going to need the help of institutions like the Kiwanis Club, which has this reservoir of resources, particularly as it relates to voluntary service, in terms of serving on these cluster boards, or indeed, on school boards in general. It will not take a great deal of time, but I assure you that it would be time well spent and very rewarding. The studies show that investments in early childhood education yield seven times the value of the initial investment. And so, I would encourage, as far as possible, your assistance in this endeavour,” Mr. Holness urged.
The Kiwanis Club of New Kingston’s spelling competition, dubbed: ‘Spelling Your Way To The Top,’ has been a feature on the organization’s calendar for the past five years. It entails competition among basic schools, which the organization either works with, or invites to participate. Some 17 schools will take part in this year’s renewal.

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