Education Ministry Personnel urged to prepare for changes under DSS

Photo: Donald Delahaye Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites (left), in conversation with Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Maurice Smith, following a meeting to sensitise and prepare staff for the development of the Department of School Services (DSS), held at the Jamaica Conference Centre, on December 11.

Story Highlights

  • Personnel from the Ministry of Education are being urged to prepare themselves for major structural and operational changes through the upcoming establishment of the Department of School Services (DSS),
  • The Department of School Services is being set up to officially separate the policy functions of the Ministry from the operational responsibilities.
  • Meanwhile, Chief Education Officer, Dr. Grace McLean, said through the work of the ESTP, the Ministry has recognized the importance of having segregated activities to allow for full implementation, greater accountability and ultimately improved performance of the Jamaican education system.

Personnel from the Ministry of Education are being urged to prepare themselves for major structural and operational changes through the upcoming establishment of the Department of School Services (DSS), under the Education System Transformation Programme (ESTP).

At a meeting of the Ministry’s senior staff members on December 11, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, in Downtown Kingston, Permanent Secretary, Dr. Maurice Smith, advised that starting in January, the Ministry will begin to regularize all posts.

“The idea is that the Ministry of Education has got to organize itself better to support our students,” he said, while highlighting the pertinence of the ongoing modernization process.

The Department of School Services is being set up to officially separate the policy functions of the Ministry from the operational responsibilities.

In an interview with JIS News following the meeting, Dr. Smith explained that the conglomeration of the roles, which now exists, does not auger well for good governance or monitoring. He explained that while the Central Ministry will be focused on policy development, the Department will be focused on implementing these policies.

“We have had several rounds of consultations and this is the point at which we are ready to show the structures. We have appointed a head of the DSS, so going forward we are transitioning staff members and redeploying them to areas of best fit,” he said.

Dr. Smith said under the modernization programme, the Ministry will be decentralizing its operations to have greater impact on the operations of the schools.

Currently, one Education Officer supervises a cluster of 28 to 30 schools and has responsibility for giving oversight to teaching and learning, supervision, administration and planned management, among other responsibilities.

Under the new system, groups of Education Officers will be working as a team to streamline different areas of responsibility in the schools.

“In modernization, we will have teams of officers working in specific subject areas, a team looking at leadership and management, a team looking at financial management, one looking at plant maintenance,  so the one school will enjoy the support of several team members to ensure that we rate the performance levels in all the areas simultaneously,” the Permanent Secretary said.

He noted that infrastructure and work conditions will be priority going forward, even as the Ministry seeks to align its operational plans according to its budget.

Dr. Smith encouraged team members to be engaged in the process of modernization. “Decide amongst yourselves today that you are going to be an active part of the change. Together we can create a different kind of Ministry, a different kind of sector. Let’s do this in the interest of our people,” he said

For his part, Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, said a spirit of courage and strength is required among the staff as the Ministry advances on this path of change, adding that there also needs to be a dedicated and transformative approach to the work.

“This means that there has to be reorganization of functions and we must be, in the context of your capacities, willing to shift from what we have been always doing and adopt another role wherein we are asked to serve. I plead today that all of us approach this task of engineering this new order with optimism and with a radical purpose,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chief Education Officer, Dr. Grace McLean, said through the work of the ESTP, the Ministry has recognised the importance of having segregated activities to allow for full implementation, greater accountability and ultimately improved performance of the Jamaican education system.

JIS Social