Fix school boards: Our education system deserves better

Monday, July 21, 2014    

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Dear Editor,

A society is as great as the public education system which caters to the children of that society. The Jamaican education system, over the years, has gone through a process of transformation. However, for the most part, our policymakers have failed the nation's children as this transformation has been hijacked by interest groups to the detriment of sustainable development.

We continue to give our politicians unbridled power to do just about anything without any level of accountability and transparency. The meddling of our politicians, over successive governments, in the education system is now being felt by all in a negative way.

One area of the education system which has been overlooked is that of the composition of school boards. In too many instances our school boards are full of political appointees, many of whom have no interest in education. This process of political interference inevitably contributes to the failing status that many of our schools now find themselves in.

We entrust school boards to provide effective and fair leadership, as well as to adjudicate in matters concerning stakeholders in the education system. All schools are community schools regardless of location. Therefore, it is imperative that all school boards have members from their respective communities.

Additionally, past students of the particular school should automatically be selected to serve on such boards. School boards should be non-partisan. A school board can have a strong influence on the spirit that characterises a community's impression of its school system. The Education Act should be revised to ensure that all school boards meet with their teachers and other stakeholders at the start of each school term. In too many instances teachers have no clue as to who are the members of their school boards since they have never seen them. This practice is most unacceptable. Our education system deserves better.

Additionally, the State needs to invest more in training school board members. The time has come for us as a nation to put in place the necessary policy procedures to ensure that we embrace and follow a more progressive agenda, instead of trying the same things repeatedly, which clearly have not and will not work for Jamaica's public education system.

Our schools are our most prized institutions and as such we must ensure that we select the most capable and competent individuals to serve on our school boards.

Wayne Campbell

waykam@yahoo.com

www.wayaine.blogspot.com

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