Opposition Leader says good leadership is needed in schools

Francis Fonseca is a former Minister of Education and presided in the early years of the Primary School Examination. Eleven years later with little change in the mean scores, Fonseca says it’s time for a serious look at the education sector.

Hon. Francis Fonseca – Leader Of The Opposition:
vlcsnap-2013-06-13-19h36m46s227We still had a long way to go but we made a huge move forward in that regard. Then we established a Teacher training unit in the Ministry of Education because we understand that if you’re going to have an improvement in the quality of education it really starts with your teachers. If you have properly trained teachers, properly equipped teachers, you will have good schools.  Also we focused on Principals. If you have a good leader at the school, a good principal, that filters right down to the schools.  You have a good principal, that good Principal will ensure that you have good teachers.  She will demand quality from her teachers. Those teachers of course will demand quality from their students. Those were the critical areas that we  targeted, but it takes a long time for you to see the fruits of those types of investments in Education.  But I think, going forward, that is where we have to focus.

On the question of incompetent teachers, Fonseca agrees with current Minister Patrick Faber: they’re better off somewhere else.

Hon. Francis Fonseca – Leader Of The Opposition:
We have to weed out of the system teachers who are not effective, who are not performing, who are short-changing out students. If they’re not performing, if they’re there just to collect a salary, we have to get rid of them.  That’s where we have to work with the churches, to make sure that that is being done, that student teachers are being properly supervised, properly assessed, and when they’re not functioning, when they’re failing our children, they need to go. That’s very important. 

Mr Fonseca also responded to reports from Minister Faber that some schools are still using corporal punishment despite a nation-wide ban under the revised Education and Training Act.

Hon. Francis Fonseca – Leader Of The Opposition:
We’ve moved in the right direction.  I think we have to accept that there are other ways of dealing with our children.  I recognize that a lot of the teachers and a lot of the churches don’t accept that.  They believe that it was a mistake.  I said in the National Assembly that I supported it at the time.  I still support it.  I think we have to find the right balance.  It’s not a carte blanch because we don’t have corporal punishment for there to be no discipline i the classrooms.  I think it’s a progressive move in the right direction.  I think it was the right decision.

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