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Ministry given failing grade

The Commission of Enquiry into the Alexandra School has given the Ministry of Education a failing grade for its handling of “numerous problems” and “disharmony” at the learning institution. Sole Commissioner Frederick Waterman, who has recommended a “strategic reorganisation” of the ministry, raised the concerns in his September 21, 2012 report.

“The commission is satisfied that the evidence points strongly to the unwillingness, or even to the inability of the Ministry of Education (as presently structured) to proactively and decisively respond in a timely manner to the numerous problems and the disharmony which had become evident at the Alexandra School from as early as within months of the principal’s arrival,” Waterman said.

“The commission found it astounding that even though the Inspection Report presented to the Chief Education Officer in April 2011 had clearly highlighted problems, inter alia, between the principal and the current board and had recommended the urgent need to find some mechanisms and strategies to heal the rifts that were militating against the continued development of the school, the Ministry of Education is yet to act on its recommendations.”

The commissioner, based on the evidence and his findings, therefore recommended:

1. A review of the Education Act and its Regulations should be undertaken under the auspices of the Ministry of Education to identify and address any areas of ambiguity or uncertainty, which could give rise to conflict between the principal and the board of management.

2. Consideration be given to the strategic re-organisation of the Ministry of Education and the refocusing of its staff with the aim of ensuring that the ministry operates proactively and is more responsive to the issues faced by the boards of management, the principal and the staff and other stakeholders of eve public secondary school. Members of the ministry’s senior staff should also be trained in alternative dispute resolution.

3. The Education Regulations be amended to make it mandatory for both the principal and deputy principal to attend all board of management meetings.

4. The Ministry of Education take urgent action to ensure the implementation by the board of management of the Alexandra School (and of any other school were Special Fund Accounts are operated) of the six recommendations issued by the Auditor Generation in Review Report of 2006-09-05. (SC)

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