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  • The Ministry fully supports the MBSF Centres of Excellence programme
  • Rev. Thwaites said he is pleased with the entrepreneurial aspect of the programme

Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, says the Ministry fully supports the Mutual Building Societies Foundation’s (MBSF) Centres of Excellence programme, which has resulted in significant improvements in six non-traditional high schools.

“On behalf of the Ministry of Education, I stand with pride and  awe at this slow but inexorable reversal of the inequalities of the past, when we are able to take those schools which have been disrespected….and place them in a position of excellence and of good outcomes,” the Minister said.

Rev. Thwaites was addressing an Educational Leadership Symposium, organised by the MBSF at the Knutsford Court Hotel, in Kingston, on July 19.

The Minister further commended the MBSF, which is a partnership between the Victoria Mutual Building Society and the Jamaica National Building Society, for its $100 million investment in the education sector.

“What these people are doing is to take the power of their wealth to garner their intellectual capacities, drawing from all those who have been participating and investing and mobilizing social capital to an extreme extent among the participating schools,” he said.

Rev. Thwaites said he is pleased with the entrepreneurial aspect of the programme, which provides students with the opportunity to start a profitable business with very little capital, citing “the verve and the spark in the eyes of those who took part in them and the obvious radiation of that into their behaviour, into their performance in schools and obviously, the multiplier effect in their future lives.”

The symposium was designed to address key issues relating to data management and the school board systems; as well as transforming school culture, and positioning the principals as the Chief Executive Officer of the academic institution, among other important issues affecting leadership.

It was also aimed to impart lessons learnt from the MBSF’s Centre of Excellence programme, which was carried out from 2008 to 2013, and sought to transform leadership and improve management performance in six non-traditional rural high schools.

Providing an overview of the initiative, Programme Manager, MBSF, Dr. Renee Rattray, informed that over the past five years, the schools have made significant gains, noting that the number of students sitting and earning passes in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations have doubled.

She further informed that all schools have reduced disciplinary infractions by an average of 69 per cent; and they have improved school culture by 80 per cent with more parents and students being confident in, and proud of their schools.

The six high schools participating in the programme are McGrath High in St. Catherine; Mile Gully and Porus High in Manchester; Godfrey Stewart High in Westmoreland; Green Pond High in St. James; and Seaforth High in St. Thomas.

Over the past five years, the Centres of Excellence programme focused on providing technical assistance to improve organisational efficiency in the schools through capacity building of principals, heads of departments and school Boards, to strengthen the teaching and learning environment.

In addition to the emphasis on administration, the programme also stressed the role students should play in their own education; and it sought to develop their leadership abilities through entrepreneurship.

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