Editorial

Principals who don't want to be trained? What rubbish!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013    

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WE took no pleasure in reporting yesterday the Ministry of Education's claim that there are school principals in this country who have refused to attend leadership training provided by the National College for Educational Leadership (NCEL).

The ministry, in an effort to get these defiant principals to comply, called a meeting with the heads of several school boards yesterday.

The ministry also reported that Dr Maurice Smith, principal director of NCEL, pointed to the case of one principal who returned the training material, saying that her school had been inspected and she had been appraised within the same academic year.

We have no reason to doubt the word of the education ministry. However, we would be happy if what they have told us turns out to be a misunderstanding. For we cannot fathom why principals — 49 of them so far, the ministry said — have not complied with the training requirements.

What kind of example, we ask, are they setting for the students they supervise when they show such disregard for a process that, we expect, will actually help them?

No one can successfully claim that they know all, and as such have no need for training. Only the most egocentric individuals think that way, and in all cases they are proven fools.

The ministry has told us that 39 of the 49 non-compliant principals are from primary schools across the island, while high schools account for 10.

Dr Smith has said that the meeting with the school boards was intended to remind them of their responsibility to hold principals accountable for the performance of their schools, especially given the fact that the chief inspector's report continues to point to weak leadership as a significant factor in underperforming schools.

That, we hold, is not an issue to be brushed under the carpet. It requires urgent attention, including from the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA).

In much the same way that it is very vociferous on matters relating to their members' welfare — be it salaries, transfers, paid study leave, etc — the JTA needs to demonstrate to the country that it has an interest in upholding high standards in the profession.

The JTA should therefore use its very powerful voice and influence to get the defiant principals to comply with the training programme, because training, regardless of how much you think you know, is never a waste of time.

Whether we like it or not, this is a world that is increasingly intolerant of those who have no will to upgrade their knowledge or marketability. We demand it of doctors and many other professionals. How much more should we demand it of teachers?

Surely, we do not need to remind principals of the oft-repeated memory gem that they teach to young children: The heights by great men reached and kept; were not attained by sudden flight; but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upwards through the night.

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