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Story Highlights

  • A five-year, $100 million investment in six non-traditional high schools, by the Mutual Building Societies Foundation (MBSF), is now reaping rich rewards in the institutions.
  • The MBSF was established by Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS) and Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) in 2008 to carry out the Centres of Excellence initiative.
  • The targeted schools had challenges with underperformance and student behaviour.

A five-year, $100 million investment in six non-traditional high schools, by the Mutual Building Societies Foundation (MBSF), is now reaping rich rewards in the institutions.

The MBSF, which was established by Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS) and Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) in 2008 to carry out the Centres of Excellence initiative, targeted McGrath High in St. Catherine; Porus and Mile Gully High in Manchester; Godfrey Stewart High, in Westmoreland; Green Pond High, in St. James; and Seaforth High in St. Thomas.

These schools had challenges with underperformance and student behaviour.

Evaluators of the programme, Harmonious Solutions, found that after five years there was dramatic improvement in attitudes and behaviours across the school communities in general, as well as in academic performance. Also, a high percentage of students are demonstrating greater pride in school.

They also found that the most visible areas of improvement are in school leadership; accountability at all levels of school management; use of data to inform teaching and learning practices; use of more effective teaching methodologies; and the introduction of entrepreneurship in schools.

A presentation on the Evaluation Findings was made on Friday, April 11, at the Mona Visitors Lodge, at the University of the West Indies.

Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, who received a copy of the report, hailed the initiative, noting that considerable strides have been made in the Centres of Excellence.

Mr. Thwaites stated that the policy of the Ministry is to “offer consistent and renewed attention” to those high schools which are weakest in terms of their infrastructure, student achievement and general ability to produce good results.

“The Centre of Excellence chose six schools and the results that we have had analysed here today are extremely impressive. We have begun a process that needs to be expanded,” Minister Thwaites said.

He pointed out that the way forward is to make these exceptional instances normative. He also advocated further public private partnership to make a difference in the system.

“The Ministry of Education is anxious to continue our partnership with the Building Societies Foundation and with all partners, to ensure that we invest heavily in the schools that need it most,” Minister Thwaites said.

He also noted that the suggestion by the evaluators for similar programmes to be introduced in primary schools should be accepted.

The evaluators noted that there was tremendous progress in strengthening the administrative leadership across the six schools and that the principals were adopting the principle of running the schools as businesses.

The principals developed job descriptions for senior staff with clearly defined tasks and achievement targets, which were monitored and used to develop action points.

Teachers were also able to share their best practices internally and externally through various workshops.