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Chief Inspector of the National Education Inspectorate (NEI), Elaine Foster Allen, has emphasised that high quality inspections of schools would be undertaken, in an effort to boost their performance.
“Through inspections we will raise the performance levels of all within the education system. It may not be so easy to make the connection between inspection and raising the levels of performance, but we will provide high quality evaluation and inspection service, as the way to help improve the system,” she explained, during a recent ‘Think Tank’, held at the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Headquarters, in Kingston.
Mrs. Foster Allen pointed out that the NEI would report fairly and would not be engaged in any kind of witch hunt.
“We will report without fear or favour. Jamaica is a small country and we all know each other more or less, especially within the teaching profession. Regardless of that, we will be very professional and we will have a code of conduct that will help us to report without fear or favour, so whether we see a friend or colleague in a school, someone we have known for 20 or 30 years, we will report as we find,” she said.
“It’s not going to be about witch hunting, it’s not going to be about trying to undermine what is going on in our schools. It’s going to be about reporting as we find,” Mrs. Foster Allen added.
According to her, the inspections would serve to provide best practices, from which the schools could draw, and the NEI would provide support for those schools that fall below par.
“We will find good, bad, indifferent and excellent practices in all our schools, so we will identify and find a way to share best practices, which we hope will, in turn, be used to improve what goes on in all our schools. We know at this point that there are some schools, which are a cause for concern and where we do find those schools, having inspected them, we will have to find a way to support those schools, so they can improve their performance,” Mrs. Foster Allen said.
She pointed out that the NEI would be working within a framework of self evaluation, school inspection and school improvement.
“The NEI will provide evidence-based advice to the Minister of Education, to inform policy development and to provide Parliament and the Jamaican public with status reports of the quality of education and the achievement and attainment of children, and the system as a whole,” she noted.
Mrs. Foster Allen said that the NEI should become an agency of the Ministry by 2010.
“The National Education Inspectorate has come into place. It is now a project. We are working to ensure that by 2010 or thereabout, it will become a fully fledged agency of the MOE,” she noted, adding that the NEI would be the main body addressing inspections of schools.
“We have in our country a framework which includes, at the lower end, the Early Childhood Inspectorate and at the upper end, the University Council of Jamaica, and so the National Education Inspectorate is expected to be the centrepiece of the framework, ensuring that inspections and reviews of what takes place in primary and secondary education are done,” the Chief Inspector said.
The NEI is expected to be an independent statutory body, functioning under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and reporting to the Jamaican Parliament.