Protect education from 'bad eggs'

Monday, January 13, 2014    

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OFTEN we read or hear of educators who go the extra mile for the good of their students and their communities.

Like Mr Anthony Murray, principal of Lethe Primary School in St James, who is actively pursuing partnerships with parents, business leaders and others in his community to improve his school. His initiatives have triggered improvement in terms of the quality of education and in physical infrastructure.

Like Mr Fitzroy Francis, principal of Harry Watch All-Age School and community builder. He is striving by dint of example to demonstrate to residents and his students that there are real benefits to be had from adding value to their farm products using simple traditional methods.

Common threads linking people like Messrs Murray and Francis are their leadership capacity and their desire to serve, regardless.

Many of us have fond memories of great teachers and school leaders -- those who made a difference to schools and communities by daily self-sacrifice without thought of material returns.

They were the ones who saw teaching and school leadership not merely as a profession, but as a calling.

Sadly, many of us can also remember those teachers and school leaders who were the exact opposite. We refer to unprofessional, incompetent and often abusive people who were obviously miserable and who made the lives of their students miserable because they had no right to be in schools and in the classroom in the first place.

And that, we submit, is a large part of the problem in education. There are far too many for whom teaching and school leadership is just a means to a cheque at the end of the month.

We suspect that a significant number of principals deemed "non-compliant" with efforts to improve their leadership and administrative capacity fall into the latter category. Obviously, for many of those, no amount of leadership training will help.

And as the Ministry of Education is well aware, 'weeding out', in the current circumstances, is next to impossible. Presumably reform of the education system will, over time, make that task easier.

In the meantime, it seems to us there needs to be a greater effort at all levels -- from teacher training colleges upwards -- to ensure that only those with a genuine desire to teach and guide children end up doing so.

To put it simply and plainly, there are too many 'bad eggs' masquerading as educators.





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