JIS News

Executive Director of the Education Transformation Team (ETT), Dr. Frank Weeple, has said that advertisements for appointments to the new education regional authorities should be out in a matter of weeks, with the aim of making the necessary appointments by the beginning of August.
The establishment of regional authorities is part of plans to decentralize the operational side of the Ministry of Education and Youth, with more autonomy given at the regional level.
“The idea is that this is going to bring management closer to schools, closer to where things are delivered. It will provide greater support and actually more focused support,” Dr. Weeple stated as he addressed a two-day retreat of chairpersons of school boards last week at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort in Ocho Rios.
According to Dr. Weeple, the regional authorities, which will replace the existing regional offices, “will be larger organizations, which will have devolved to them, many of the operational functions currently in the Ministry. They will have more autonomy, a different status, and will be charged with having a relentless focus on school improvement.”
He indicated that there may also be a reconfiguration of the regions as they now exist.
Under the new authorities, education officers will have a more focused role, and “more educational and management support will be in the offering to institutions, with better monitoring, more support and more challenges,” Dr. Weeple further pointed out.
It is envisaged that within the new authorities, will be a unit that will support the work of school boards, and since it is a fact not all boards are equally effective, thought is being given to having different configurations of school boards, such as clustering and families of schools.
According to Dr. Weeple, the new authorities will have an inspectorate, which will have self-evaluation at the heart of its work. “It will have a differentiated approach to inspection, in other words, not all schools will be inspected with the same frequency. It may well be that some schools that have demonstrated that they are good schools will not need to be inspected as frequently as others that would clearly, need more support.
“And therefore, we may need more sophisticated judgments about quality, not just exam performance,” he stated.
The new authorities and the personnel employed will begin their work on a phased basis under the guidance of consultants. “They are not going to be starting from day one running a new regional authority,” the ETT Executive Director said. “They are going to be taking time working with consultants as a team to develop this model,” he added.
The establishment of regional authorities is one of the recommendations of the Task Force on Education Reform report, which was commissioned by the government in 2004 and is part of the ongoing programme to transform the education sector.

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