JIS News

Primary school children, their teachers and parents will soon reap the rewards of improved efficiency from school Principals as the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture seeks to enhance the capabilities of school administrations.
This is being pursued through the post-graduate Principals’ Diploma Training Programme, which is open to all primary school principals. The training programme, which began in May of this year, offers 805 scholarships to primary, junior high, all-age and infant school principals, and is tenable both locally and in Canada at the Mount Saint Vincent University.
The Ministry’s Senior Director of Human Resource Management and Administration, Paulette Morgan, tells JIS News that the Diploma Programme is part of the institutional strengthening of the Ministry’s Primary Education Support Project (PESP).
Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ session last week, Mrs. Morgan says that with the participation of the principals in the Diploma Programme, the Ministry expects that they will be exposed to innovative thinking, better managerial skills, and a stronger sense of empowerment. This should result in the overall improvement in the social and academic performance of the nation’s primary schools and the student population, she adds.
The Diploma Programme’s modules, she points out, seek to improve the principals’ discipline in five key areas – organizational behaviour, evaluation and supervision, effective schools, issues in Jamaican education, and leadership and management.
Funding for the Diploma Programme, Mrs. Morgan tells JIS News, has come from a loan to the Jamaican government by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Principals in the initial batch have already completed the first phase of the Diploma Programme, with 50 principals journeying to Mount Saint Vincent University in Canada in June. They completed a three-month developmental programme, while another 230 principals have started the local leg of year-long tutorials.
The local training for the principals is scheduled to take place at four locations – St. Joseph’s Teachers’ College in Kingston, Bethlehem Teachers’ College in St. Elizabeth, Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College in St. James, and the College of Agriculture, Science and Education in Portland. Although some principals will be trained locally and others abroad, the curriculum will be identical. Mrs. Morgan points out that Canadian lecturers from Mount Saint Vincent University will be visiting the island to conduct several of the Programme’s five modules.
All the participants will have access to the library facilities of the University for educational support, by way of an Internet-based classroom tutor called WEBCT. This will allow the participants to have research access, as well as to promote communication among themselves and the university’s faculty.
The Senior Director notes that the second local phase of the Diploma Programme should begin in May 2004, while the third and final phase would roll out in May of 2005. She adds that in the near future, two separate batches of almost 230 teachers each, are set to be enrolled in consecutive phases of the Programme.
Two primary and junior high school principals who were participants in both the local and foreign phases of the Diploma Programme speak glowingly of their training experiences with JIS News.Principal of Mico Practising Primary and Junior High School Special Education Unit, Lennox Peart, gives the Diploma Programme high marks, noting that he planned to make subtle but effective changes within his school.
Having watched the interactions of an elementary principal in Canada and his ability to identify each child in the school on a first-name basis, Mr. Peart tells JIS News that one of the crucial changes he wants to make at Mico Practising and Junior High is “having better one-on-one relationships with the students”.
Equally complimentary of the Diploma Programme is Principal of the Whitfield All-age School, Reford Hinds.
Mr. Hinds says his participation in the local leg of the Programme has equipped him with useful skills that should greatly assist in the management of his school.
He says his exposure to such pertinent elements as mentoring, teacher reflection, and personal growth plans have served to better his understanding of school administration and will see him making general improvements over time at Whitfield All-age.
Mrs. Morgan is encouraging principals who have not yet made applications for the next phase of the Diploma Programme, to do so this month. “They need to apply for the second phase of the overseas training, which begins in early May of next year. We need applications, especially now, for persons who want to compete for the 50 overseas places,” she stresses.
She explains that although “all candidates will be required to undergo an interviewing process,” principals who are desirous of being selected for the overseas Programme are asked to “do a case study as well as to indicate to the Ministry that they have a school development plan in hand”.
The deadline for the submission of applications by principals who wish to participate in the second phase of the overseas and local segments of the training programme is Saturday, October 18.

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