BAD-behaving school principals and the Jamaica Teachers' Association have come in for criticism from veteran educator Esther Tyson.
The current acting principal at Tarrant High School in St Andrew, who made a name for herself as the no-nonsense head at Ardenne High, is calling for a raft of standards to govern how principals carry out their duties.
"We have to have some standards that our leaders understand and embrace. There are some horrific stories out there of the behaviour that they go on with and therefore have no moral authority in their schools to govern anybody, because of their own personal conduct. There needs to be established standards of what is expected of a principal and who holds them accountable," Tyson stressed.
Currently, Tyson explained, the education sector is governed by the Code of Regulation which dates back to 1980.
"Since I started as a principal in 2000 it was being reviewed. It was supposed to be done under the transformation of education project, then that was stopped. It was green paper, white paper and that was stopped. And then the next administration said that we're going to be governed by some other legislation... the bottom line is we're still being governed by the 1980 Code of Regulation which is outdated," Tyson told journalists at the weekly Monday Exchange held at the Jamaica Observer offices on Beechwood Avenue in St Andrew.
"But at the end of the day, principals must be held to a standard. The change in the education system has to be leadership-driven," Tyson added.
Turning to the JTA which represents the majority of the island's educators, Tyson noted that the focus of the body should not just be about money and benefits, but also on standards for educators.
"I say this without apology, the JTA cannot be a body simply pushing for more. Yes, a teachers' salary is not hot but there has to be professional development and more," she said.
She further called for continuity as it relates to the policies for the education system, noting that stops and starts and mid-stream changes afflict the system.
"One of the problems in this country is the continuity in terms of the type of policy to make education develop and grow. In Barbados, they don't have this... there is a plan. No matter what the administration, politically, ...they stick to the plan. We need to be consistent as a people. We have a vision, we know where we're going and we're sticking to it," she emphasised.
Meanwhile, her comments regarding standards were echoed by Dr Renee Rattray, programme manager at the Mutual Building Societies Foundation that administers the Centres of Excellence programme in six rural area high schools.
For Rattray, too many educators do not value learning time.
"Until our teachers begin to see teaching contact time as sacred and precious... We need more leaders who recognise the importance of this. We are not serious enough about guarding the education of the nation's children," she pointed out.