Chief Secretary challenges school principals

THA Chief Secretary addresses principals, assistant principals, senior teachers and supervisors at their term conference on Thursday (February 21 2013) at the Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute at Blenheim in east Tobago.
THA Chief Secretary Orville London is urging school principals in Tobago to take responsibility for their school plants.

“Long ago a principal owned the school and that is how they took charge. Whether you are a school supervisor, a school inspector or not it was the principal’s school, the headmaster school,” he told principals, assistant principals, senior teachers and supervisors at their term conference on Thursday (February 21 2013) at the Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute at Blenheim in east Tobago.

The Tobago Chief Secretary lamented: “Too many principals are not taking charge, not taking responsibility, not taking ownership for the school, it is my school and therefore if it your school, whether it is the maintenance of the plant, whether it is the disciplining of the students, whether it is the achievement of the objectives, it is your responsibility.”

London said he cannot accept a situation where there were 40-odd schools in Tobago and when there was a maintenance problem the one person being held responsible was the one supervisor in the Division of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport.

“That does not make sense, it has to be a situation where each principal has to say it is my school and I have to do what is necessary to ensure what has to be done in my school is done. There has to be that process whereby you take ownership and you don’t only take ownership of the process, you take ownership of the outcome. If you don’t take ownership of the outcome there is always the tendency to look for excuses, to look for a scapegoat, to decide that it is somebody else’s fault,” he said.

He said people have to take ownership of the process and the outcome otherwise all that they discussed at their conference was not going to work because they were going to spend most of their time looking for reasons why they cannot succeed or excuses for a lack of success rather than reasons for success.

London also said the people of Tobago must have a greater say in the governance of the island between elections and urged them to participate in the institutions and processes that will give people in the communities and in different sectors of the society an opportunity to play a meaningful role in the governance of island and to hold responsible those who were responsible for the governance of the island.

He added that in order to do that the people have to be prepared and the people also have to take responsibility and it was here the principals have got to help.

He told listeners that the development of Tobago and Tobagonians depended on what came out of the Division of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport and nobody can nay-say that. He said he had some degree of satisfaction with the conference theme “evaluating school effectiveness: accountability for student performance”.

He said: “It sends very positive signals to me about the mindset of the principals, teachers and of the Division; it signals to me that the Division is not focused on what we do not have that will frustrate us in achieving our objective but we focusing on what we do have that will facilitate us in achieving our objective because we always have to make a choice between these two concepts, what could frustrate and what could facilitate.

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