Minister of Education, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, has commended the “extraordinary voluntarism” of the country’s school board members, noting that they give freely of their time and effort to support principals, teachers and students.
“The school boards are the eyes and ears of the Ministry of Education; they are our delegates in the particular school. They are the unsung heroes and heroines, whether at the primary level, the secondary level or at the early childhood level. In the most difficult of situations, they have done so well,” he stated.
The Minister was speaking today (April 19), at the launch of a handbook developed by the National Council on Education (NCE) for school boards, at the Kingston and St. Andrew Parish Library on Tom Redcam Drive.
He stated that in constituting a school board, it is important to select people, who have the time and the willingness “and the best person who is going to assist the school, and I urge people of faith and goodwill to open themselves for service as school board members.”
Minister Thwaites welcomed the NCE manual, noting that it “offers the reference point for the school board members in every aspect of their functioning.”
He further commended the NCE members, past and present, who have contributed to the development of the publication.
Entitled ‘All Hands on Board’, the manual was developed as part of efforts by the NCE to advance its school board training mandate. The user-friendly reference guide will assist boards of management in undertaking their functions effectively and judiciously.
Executive Director, NCE, Merris Murray, said the manual will be distributed to all schools through the regional offices. She informed that it will also be uploaded to the Council’s website at www.nce.org.jm.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative to Jamaica, Robert Fuderich, who attended the launch, said the handbook is a crucial tool in the child-friendly toolkit to enable school boards to provide the leadership needed.
He said it will also ensure that schools achieve the highest standards of academic outcomes and safety, among other things.
“It is not enough to have a hunch on how schools should be governed; it is not enough to say ‘I attended a school, so I must know how to manage a school’. But a whole host of skills and knowledge of the system are required to make the school board operate effectively and as a team,” he stated.
Principal of Jamaica College, Ruel Reid, endorsed the publication, noting that it will assist in standardising quality within schools, which, ultimately, begins with the board.
The book is designed to: ensure compliance with the legal, regulatory and policy framework governing the operation of boards of management of public education institutions; reinforce the role of school boards in advancing the Ministry of Education’s strategic objectives and policy direction; and ensure a common understanding of the role of the board in school administration.
It also seeks to heighten the awareness of boards of management, as critical agents of effective schools; ensure coverage of all areas of management key to effective school governance; and provide for consistency in the interpretation and application of all prescriptive and enabling pieces of legislation governing school operation.
The book was conceptualised in partnership with the UNICEF.
CONTACT: CHRIS PATTERSON