Ministry steps up drive for better managed schools By Stacey Davidson
Guyana Chronicle
November 29, 2001

`Calling a Parent Teachers Association meeting is not managing' - Education Minister, Dr. Henry Jeffrey

THE Education Ministry is stepping up the pace to improve the way schools are managed with a rigid schedule for this year's School Management and Supervision Orientation Workshop.

The five-day programme opened Monday at the Police Officers Mess in Georgetown with Education Minister, Dr. Henry Jeffrey urging head teachers to develop in their minds a vision for the improvement of their schools, and actively pursuing it with the assistance of parents and community members.

He said the ministry recognises that many people might not have management experience but the theoretical background to justify some action. The ministry, he reported, is piloting a management certificate for head teachers to assist in this process.

The modules will be given to them as a foundation to provide the theoretical foundation for the proper management of schools, he said.

"Calling a Parent Teachers Association meeting is not managing. Management is an attempt to change - to make it do what you want it to do, to make it affect your output in a positive way. That is what management is supposed to do", he stressed.

Jeffrey said the Education Ministry will do its part to ensure the management of schools is achieved in keeping with high standards.

Schools should have staff development programmes specifically geared for untrained teachers, he noted.

"If you have untrained teachers you have to make a special effort to get them to do what they are supposed to do."

The Education Minister pointed out that a management system without monitoring is worthless.

"Therefore, we are going to put in the monitors, we are going to see every district, every regional office has at least by the end of January (2002), eighty per cent of its capacity of people who are supposed to go and work", he promised.

Regional Education Officers will soon be required to send school reports by e-mail to the ministry to enhance its effective operationalisation, he announced.

"So in another month, every time the officer in the district goes out, he will drop a school report in our e-mail bag. We will know what's happening in the schools, we will know which school has improved or not, we will know when children are absent and nobody (is) taking care of it..."

The minister also said that after much consideration and deliberation, it was felt too many children in the Primary Tops and Community High Schools are not achieving much.

As a result, it was decided that by next year, these schools will be to prepared to teach for the Caribbean Secondary Education (CSEC) or Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC).

"We are going to try our best to do the staff upgrading, to have (personnel) and the necessary material in place", he said.

"We are not claiming that this is the ideal definition of universal secondary education but I think we have to reach to such levels", he added.

Jeffrey singled out indiscipline in schools as a matter which has to be dealt with immediately before it gets uncontrollable.

"Indiscipline is a thing that is virtually inculcated for a number of reasons. You have to incrementally try to bring back that discipline. One of the best ways of doing that is getting children to do things that are public and that people do normally, but are not done", he suggested.

He said environmental monitors should also be in schools to prevent students from littering the surroundings, which is a major act of indiscipline.

Referring to the truancy campaign which started in October, the Education Minister said it was geared to decrease the number of dysfunctional people in the school system.

"If we are saying we don't want too many dysfunctional people in the society, we...have to manage this process to see they are in school", he noted.

Senior Education Officer for Administration and Course Coordinator, Mr. Vibert Hart said that after the seminar, it is expected that 105 head teachers, 35 deputy head teachers, 96 senior teachers and 67 heads of department will be appointed.

The objectives of the seminar are:
1) To develop an appreciation and understanding of the Nursery School System and the requirements of the job as a Nursery School Administrator or Manager.

2) To develop an appreciation and understanding of the Primary School System and the requirements of the job as a Primary School Administrator or Manager.

3) To develop an appreciation and understanding of the Secondary School System and the requirements of the job as a Secondary School Administrator or Manager.

The programme is being held under the theme 'Preparing School Administrators To Educate Every Child'.