EDUCATION consultant and UK-based social commentator Dr Tony Sewell says the Ministry of Education needs to give principals, educators and administrators of schools more power over the operation and control of the island's schools.
According to Dr Sewell, who has just completed an inquiry into the future of London's education system for London's mayor Boris Johnson, principals and educators have been brainwashed to turn to the ministry for instructions on numerous levels of decision making, and it is for this reason that many local schools have failed.
"We have a system where the ministry is the demand and control centre. This is not going to work in a modern country. If we are going to have a good education system, we have to move. We've got to move to a situation where schools are autonomous," Dr Sewell said.
He was addressing members of the Rotary Club of St Andrew North on the topic 'How to fix Jamaica's education system' at the offices of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Kingston last month.
According to Dr Sewell, who was once a teacher in the Caribbean, the level of authority given to educators beyond the level of ministry officials is not enough. It is for this reason that many teachers are laid back in the classrooms and not highly concerned about the performance of their students, he said.
With more power given to principals, educators and administrators of schools, he is of the view that they will then be held responsible for the accountability of resources, discipline of students and students' performance, develop better leadership skills, and in the long run, operate schools more efficiently. These, he said, are values needed for the modernisation of the country.
"Depending on the ministry will not work in a modern context," he said.
He said those involved in decision making can follow the changes and improvements made in developed countries like England, that are booming.
"If you look at the traditional high schools in Jamaica, one of the things that is very interesting is that they are based on the post-colonial society," he said.
He said he has begun discussions with the Ministry of Education and has presented a proposal with projects he hopes will be welcomed to improve Jamaica's education system.