Education minister: Principals create vision, motivate and inspire staff and students
A principal creates vision and motivates and inspires staff and students to pursue high levels of achievement. In their critical role as instructional leaders, principals set goals, monitor teaching and learning, review and use data for planning and improvement, implement training and provide feedback for growth to staff on an ongoing basis.
Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd reminded principals at the opening of the Caribbean Association of Principals of Secondary Schools (CAPSS) 26th biennial conference that a key feature of a transfigured future is the adoption and comprehensive use of technology in the 21st century delivery of education to students.
He told them that the greatest benefits of attending the academic and professional conference were the opportunities to build their networks and increase their awareness of new trends in education.
He said that quality leadership means possession of distinct characteristics — self-awareness, integrity, courage, confidence, enthusiasm, innovation and wisdom.
The education minister said that self-awareness should include knowledge of values, passions, skills strengths and weaknesses, and having the ability to learn from mistakes and seek information to fill knowledge gaps.
Having integrity, he said, means having a strong sense of what is right, demonstrating ethical practices that set the tone for others and teaching by example.
He said with courage, educators should have the strength to allow their values to influence their behavior and the greater good, despite pressure to detract; they should have the confidence to embrace all challenges with a keen sense of fortitude.
At the conference, which was held under the theme “Quality Leadership: driving educational success”, Lloyd reminded attendees to be enthusiastic about the possibilities of achieving success. He encouraged them to be innovative and to think outside the box by taking risks and developing new and effective solutions. They were urged to use intelligence coupled with insight and empathy.
The conference was in alignment with the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals 2030. These are 17 goals to transform the world and include eliminating poverty, eliminating hunger, increasing good health and well-being, providing access to quality education, ensuring gender equality, ensuring clean water and sanitation, providing access to affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, industry innovation and infrastructure, reducing inequalities, creating sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, action on climate change, protecting justice and strong institutions of justice and creating partnerships for the goals.
“Goal four (quality education) is to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. Principals, you are charged with a sacred and unequalled responsibility to ensure that this objective is manifestly realized within our region corporately, and your own countries and schools individually,” said Lloyd, as he reminded them that they are the most significant feature of the educational delivery mechanism.
He said that recent discussion has also illustrated the interdependence between education actions and outcomes and other drivers of sustainable development; and that the link between education and economic development has been especially prominent in relation to post-secondary education and lifelong learning.
“Understanding links between education and sustainable development is important in order to be able to develop policies and programs where the impact being sought is well-defined, effective and contributes to society.”
Lloyd said the Bahamian government believes in a focus on technology, early life and preschool education, professional development, renewal of the physical plant, curriculum development, private sector investment and accelerating graduation rates; he believes broadening educational accessibility and choices will help achieve the fourth goal.
Lloyd said that, according to CARICOM’s human resource development strategy, problems in basic education from the early childhood through to secondary, with tertiary as well as lifelong learning, continue to beset the much-needed transformation of the region.
“As one example, 2015 IDB report revealed that in Latin America and the Caribbean, for every dollar spent on children aged zero to five, $3 is spent on children aged six to 12 in Latin America and the Caribbean. That is one of the unsettling findings of ‘The Early Years: Child Well-Being and the Role of Public Policy’, edited by Samuel Berlinski and Norbert Schady. ‘Development in early childhood casts a long shadow all the way into adulthood,’ said Norbert Schady, the principal economic advisor to the IDB’s social sector and one of the study’s lead editors,” said Lloyd.
Lloyd said the report states that spending on effective programs for young children has resulted in positive impacts later in life and is a powerful tool for upward socio-economic mobility. But for it to happen, he said, government-funded services in Latin America and the Caribbean need to be of a much higher quality; this is where the principal comes in, as he said that everything rises and falls on leadership.
“A plethora of world examples shower this planet. Education is no exception. The late, great Dr. Myles Munroe once said, ‘Leadership really comes down to two things — who you are and how you think. It is about discovering your identity as a born leader and then understanding the way true leaders think, so that you can fulfill your inherent calling. If you don’t first establish your leadership nature, it will be very difficult to have the mind-set of leadership’.”
Lloyd told the principals that Janet Baker, superintendent of Hamilton City Schools in Missouri, USA, said recently that the leadership of the principal is the single most important factor in the success of the school. He said that principals must appreciate the indispensable investment they make and must continue to make in the transformative verve of the educational establishment within our societies.
He said author Jennifer Demski, in her 2012 book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective Tech-leading Principals”, postured that a principal must be a connected learner.
The education minister said schools that implement technology in their classrooms see a 92 percent reduction in the need for disciplinary action, a 90 percent increase in high stakes test scores, 89 percent fewer dropouts and a 63 percent increase in graduation rates.
He said that tablets, laptops, educational gaming software and smartphones allow schools to personalize the learning experience; increase student engagement and collaboration through social media, simulations, and games; efficiently assess student progress as often as once a week, for more carefully tailored educational experiences; and address the special needs of kids struggling with learning or cognitive disabilities, language barriers or other obstacles to learning.