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Minister of Education, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, has urged school administrators to use the reports from the National Education Inspectorate (NEI) as a guide to improving their institutions.

“We have a tool in the education system now which we are not using adequately. In the transformation process, the National Education Inspectorate has been providing inspection reports on a majority of our public schools. Those reports must be the baseline for reform in each of those schools, and school officials must be made accountable for the achievement of the objectives contained in those reports,” the Minister said.

He noted that 600 comprehensive school assessments have now been carried out, with most available to the individual schools.

The Minister was speaking at the official launch of the Educate Jamaica Programme, at Jamaica College in Kingston, today (April 11).

Meanwhile, Rev. Thwaites commended former ministers of education and officials of the Ministry for their efforts to train school Boards, and to be cautious about who are appointed to such bodies.

“Membership on a school Board is not a political sinecure…it is important that the people’s representative have a role in indicating persons that he/she thinks would be suitable for membership. It is important also that the Principal of the schools have some input in this process,” he told the audience of school administrators, students and other stakeholders.

The Minister implored school Boards to take initiatives such as Educate Jamaica, as an opportunity to achieve the highest level of responsibility and accountability.

Educate Jamaica is a $43.9 million joint venture project among the Ministry of Education, the Development Bank of Jamaica, secondary schools across Jamaica, private sector companies, and targeted funding agencies. It is being implemented by Strategic Alignment Limited (SAL).

The project seeks to address the challenge of inadequate education performance at the school level by applying the principles of governance, leadership, student-centred strategy, accountability and stakeholder involvement as stated in the 2004 Task Force Report on Education Reform.

Educate Jamaica is now being piloted in six secondary schools, with focus on those institutions with the greatest need for improvement, including one of the four schools identified by the National Education Inspectorate as failing. The participating schools are: St. Andrew Technical High, Denham Town High, Charlemont High, Buff Bay High, Kemps Hill High, and Glengoffe High.

The Ministry is providing the necessary policy and quality assurance oversight, while Strategic Alignment Limited is providing the necessary project inputs, including: Governance Training; Leadership Development; Strategy Articulation; Strategy Execution Support; Performance Management system design; and Implementation.

By Alphea Saunders, JIS Reporter