JIS News

The government of Jamaica’s programme to transform the education system gets underway this academic year with focus to be placed on the critical areas of governance and management; curriculum and teaching support; anti-social and violent behaviours; stakeholder partnership and school refurbishment, construction and maintenance.
Minister of Education, Youth and Culture Maxine Henry-Wilson, who was speaking at the launch of the new school year at Innswood High School in Old Harbour, St. Catherine on Tuesday (Sept. 21), said that the areas were recommended by the Education Task Force and would be implemented by the Education Ministry.
In February 2004, Prime Minister Patterson appointed a 14-member Task Force on Educational Reform to prepare and present an action plan consistent with a vision for the creation of a world-class education system, which will generate the human capital and produce the skills necessary for Jamaican citizens to compete in the global economy.
“The transformation of the education system is not just about repairing, expanding and constructing new schools. While that is essential, it must be understood clearly that transformation also involves transformational leadership, transformation of curriculum development and delivery methods and transformation of the policy capacities efficiently monitor our educational system,” Minister Henry-Wilson said.
Over 200 students and teachers drawn from schools in the six education regions as well school principals, education officers, councillors and board chairpersons attended the function.
Outlining further plans to improve the education system, Mrs. Henry Wilson said that the Ministry would be establishing regional education authorities (REAs) staffed with trained subject specialists, master teachers, guidance counsellors and social workers.
She pointed out that the groundwork has already begun to ensure that by the end of the fiscal year, “the implementation phase of the restructuring of the Ministry and the establishment of the REAs will be on stream and will continue over a three-year period.”Additionally, she announced that the Ministry has embarked on the training of school principals to enable them to lead and manage their schools autonomously.
“The training of over 800 primary school principals will soon be completed, with the final batch of 310 to be trained by the end of academic year 2006,” she said.
The Minister added that training of secondary school principals would begin this year through the Professional Development Unit of the Ministry.Other initiatives by the Ministry, she said, were the assessment of the training and certification of board members through the National Council on Education and the establishment of standardized scorecards for schools.
At the same time, the Minister appealed to board chairpersons to actively participate in the management of the schools they were selected to lead and “not only be occasional visitors” to the institutions.
“Once you have committed yourself to lead the school board, we are urging you, we are imploring you, assist, support, facilitate the principals in their efforts to make the school an excellent learning environment,” she urged them, adding that the success of the school would be determined by the extent to which they “display an interest in the performance of the school.”
Addressing concerns that chairmen and principals have no power, the Minister said, “all we ask is that you exercise that power within the ambit of the education regulations and the Education Act so that we can ensure that due process takes place.”
Other speakers at the function were Chief Education Officer Adelle Brown; Opposition Spokesman on Education, Andrew Holness; President of the Jamaica Teachers Association, Ruel Reid; and Custos of St. Catherine Sophia Azan.