JIS News

The National Council on Education (NCE) has launched its revised procedures aimed at improving the quality, efficiency and accountability of school boards.
Chairman of the NCE and principal of Jamaica College, Ruel Reid, made the announcement on Thursday (December 10) at a press conference at the Ministry of Education, Heroes Circle in Kingston.
Mr. Reid noted that the new framework has become necessary, as several challenges have been encountered when appointing school boards, such as the length of time, sometimes extending to over a year, between the end of a board’s term and the appointment of a new board.
“So when we evaluated the situation, we had to make some adjustments to make the process more efficient…we’ve got to be efficient, so that we can ensure the highest levels of accountability,” he said.
Under the new requirements, prospective board members must be a fit and proper person, meaning someone who is of sound mind and who has not been convicted of an offence under certain legislations, including Offences Against the Person Act; the Child Care and Protection Act; the Sexual Offences Act; or have committed acts of fraud. They also should have attained at least a secondary level education.
To qualify as board chairmen, individuals have to attain at least post secondary/vocational education and gained a minimum of three years experience in supervisory management. They should also have a proven track record in supervision and management; have a keen interest in education and nation-building; and possess excellent negotiating, inter-personal and conflict resolution skills.
A significant aspect of this revised process, Mr. Reid pointed out, is the establishment of a pool of qualified persons to be drawn from professional bodies, who can be nominated by anyone.
“From the pool, we will make nominations through a three-member panel…that committee will be chaired by the regional directors, will include the Member of Parliament or his representative and, for the first time, will have the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) or the community representative involved with the process,” he said.
Mr. Reid also advised that persons interested in serving on the boards, make themselves available.
“Clearly, we are democratising the process, we are broadening participation in the education process, because it is a partnership,” he added.
The first phase of the new process will begin in Region 5, which covers Manchester, St. Elizabeth and parts of Clarendon, in April 2010
Other measures to be employed to improve governance and leadership in schools include: ensuring that boards are appointed on time; evaluating the performance of the members to determine continuation of service; and standardising the composition of the boards.
Also, under this new procedure, an on-line training programme for board members will be developed, as well as a ‘Train the Trainers’ programme to improve the effectiveness of the boards.
The school board, among other things, is responsible for the conduct, supervision and efficient operation of the institution; ensuring that proper books of accounts are maintained, according to stipulated regulations and guidelines; and ensuring that annual audits are done.
A statutory body falling under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, the NCE was established in 1993, to co-ordinate the process to support the effective appointment and training of members of school boards, among other things.

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