Principals told that there is much room for improvement
Published: Aug 21, 2013
Days before the opening of the new school year, public school principals were told that there is much room for improvement in the education sector by Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald, but that in their pursuit of educational success that he was more concerned about the factors beyond their control — particularly parental involvement in children’s education.
“We can address the curriculum, teacher training, intervention strategies, but we can never fully develop the child if he or she has bad parents,” said Fitzgerald, who himself is the parent of a former Primary School Student of the Year winner.
According to Fitzgerald, studies have shown that the greatest contributing factor to a child’s educational success is the involvement of the parent in their child’s education, and as such it could be deduced that the poor performance of some of their children is as much a reflection of inadequacies in the educational system, as it is a reflection of the failure of the parents to instill education as a value to them.
“The truth is our value structure is learnt in the home, so it begs the questions: Do we have bad children or just bad parents? Do we have failing students or just failing parents?”
He told them that while they may be challenged in reaching the issues that are found at the core of a student’s family structure, that they can focus on what they can fix and in the process be engaged in addressing the issues which negatively impact their students when they are not in school.
“Essentially I am asking you to be involved in the development of the whole child,” said Fitzgerald. “The urgency of addressing the deficiencies in education has long past.”
The schools’ heads were also told that there can be no doubt that there is a need for greater accountability, but that it must coexist with action in the form of interventions to achieve meaningful and measurable changes in the educational system.
He also told the principals that a further $2 million will be invested in education for the new school year. And he reminded them about the introduction of four major initiatives which the education ministry anticipates will have an impact on the educational system — the opening of a special needs school at the former Our Lady’s Catholic School that will be a center for intervention, training, teaching and research; the opening of the Mable Walker Professional Development Institute to provide continuous training of teachers, administrators, education and curriculum officers. (The institute that will be open to both public and private school personnel); the introduction of the Standardized Graduation Diploma which would establish a benchmark for what is considered a minimum basic education that every child should obtain before leaving the school system and will include standards for civics, punctuality and community service; and the establishment of the TG Glover School as a research and development school.
“Any success we have in education will be because we collectively decided that education must be a value and all of our energies and policies are directed to that conclusion,” said Fitzgerald. “These problems did not occur overnight and they will not be fixed overnight.”
The education minister said much of their success would be found in the priority the ministry place on factors they control like recruitment, training, improving, leadership skills, capital and human resource investments.
He also expressed to the principals his dissatisfaction with the recent Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Examinations (BGCSE) and Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) results.
The results of the 2013 national examinations show that at the BGCSE level, schools which sat more than 20 papers, three schools attained a B-minus average; three school attained a C+ average; and all the rest, public and private schools attained a C average or below.
At the BJC level, 10 schools attained a B/B-minus average; four schools attained a C+ average, and all the rest attained a C or below.
He said that starting this academic year the Grade Level Assessment Test (GLAT), BJC and BGCSE statistics would play a significant part in the transformation of the intervention strategies in education.
Fitzgerald said education officials would meet with each school to share the breakdown of its performance subject by subject. And that they would meet with curriculum officers to discuss the performance of their respective subjects and strategies for improving the instructional deliverables as well as holding them and teachers under their purview accountable for the items.
Principals were told that they are expected to meet with all of their teachers to discuss their role in the overall plan for better results, and to develop a plan to assist each student in areas of weakness.
“In order for this transformation to occur with any appreciable degree of success, you will have to take greater responsibility for your school’s performance.”
Fitzgerald told the school leaders that the time has come for greater partnership among educators and the sharing of information, practices and interventions that are working. He said insular attitudes in strategic effective methods must be a thing of the past. He said students and the nation suffers when people are territorial and selfish.