Home > Columnists, Commentary > The politics of leadership: Guyana and its presidency (Part 3)

The politics of leadership: Guyana and its presidency (Part 3)

Sir Ronald Sanders

Do we always have to turn to foreign initiatives and research to boost the effectiveness of our education system? From what I have recently observed in three Tobago secondary schools and one Tobago primary school, I thunderously say no.

My recommendations to architects of educational policy is to pay a fact-finding visit to Bishop’s High School, Goodwood High School, Speyside High School and Pembroke Anglican Primary School to obtain insights into how effectively our schools can be governed.

Findings from an audit conducted by two UWI lecturers, a team of UWI postgraduate students in educational administration, and myself revealed some interesting insights which space does not permit me to reveal. However, what is important to note is the successful efforts of these schools to promote a sense of community in their students, while at the same time emphasising the need for holistic development and the importance of cultivating an appreciation not only for the academic but also for the sporting and cultural dimensions of life.

the three secondary schools are doing great work but, what has me really excited is the work that has been conducted at Pembroke Anglican Primary School. Indeed, the school’s graduation ceremony on June 18 left me awe-struck. My first surprise was the composition of the graduating class – one girl and 13 boys. On interacting with the group, the sole female student informed me that her experiences in the class were pleasant, memorable, educational, and held lifelong implications for her ability to cope and excel in a heterosexual world. I also found out that she and the boys were never distracted from their work at school and at all times were motivated by the support, cooperation, and collaboration which prevailed in the class.

Another surprise, which would have been sheer musical ecstasy for steelband aficionados, was the item on the programme described as ’A Steel Pan Interlude’’. What an experience I had! The band offered three renditions, which left the audience literally begging for more. Perhaps the most laudable dimension of the band was its composition. It was made up of all the graduates of the class of 2010, a gentleman from the community who trained the group, and their class teacher.

This was not all Pembroke Anglican had to offer. The ballroom dancing item took the day’s celebration to another level. And what a delight it was! Students with teachers as their partners floated over the floor with great skill. Who dares accuse Pembroke Anglican of focusing only on cognitive work and drilling students to pass the SEA examinations!

Although there is considerable room for improvement in the school, Pembroke Anglican can easily serve as a model for educating our young people. If the Ministry of education wants to learn more on same-sex schooling, I suggest that it send personnel from its planning unit to interview that class of 2010. Doing this would provide great insight. Also, much information on making the curriculum of our schools more relevant to the everyday needs of students would be obtained.

I salute Pembroke Anglican for its vision, mission, goals, and commitment in promoting: 1) community involvement in the school to ensure that students develop love and passion for the culture and sporting activities of their village and country; 2) home-school collaboration for getting parents and guardians (men are still behind in this regard) to pay more meaningful attention to their children’s education; 3) a fairly good level of student academic achievement; 4) a strong and cohesive staff solidarity which has been propelled by ethical leadership, mutual respect among teachers, and genuine and dedicated support from the community and parents of Pembroke.

Yes! Speaking of lessons learned from Tobago is no idle claim. Collectively, these three secondary schools and one primary school have served to endorse the very clear message of the literature that schools must deliberately cultivate orderly, collaborative, productive, and safe environments, if they wish to promote desirable learning and control patterns among students. This, however, cannot be done if administrators and teachers fail to establish a school climate which is characterised by:

– Clear, firm, and high parental, teacher, and administrator expectations;

– Consistent rules and consequences that directly relate to breaking these rules;

– A decided and well-implemented curriculum which emphasises the self-esteem of all students;

– Public and private acknowledgement and rewarding of positive behaviour projected by students

– Raymond Hackett is an education professional

– Alan Harris returns next week

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