School Administration Board system poised to take effect | Sunday Observer

School Administration Board system poised to take effect

18 March, 2018

Minister of Education, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said, “Managers will be appointed for all National Schools with more than 1,000 students, while both, a Manager and an Assistant Manager will be appointed for schools with more than 2,000 students, for the purpose of administration. I arranged to present this proposal to the Cabinet for approval.

The managers will be directly involved in the administration of the school, leaving the Principal of the school with more time to prioritize the educational pursuits of children. This decision was made in relation to the numerous requests of school Principals and educationalists. We hope to establish the school administration board within two years, which will be responsible for the Grade One admission process and for the utilization of financial allocations the school receives from the Education Ministry.”

The Sunday Observer spoke to experts in the education sector to learn their views on the new system which is to be established.

Pilot project

Educationist, Jezima Ismail says, “This is a good idea of the Education Minister. The Principal can be freed from the administrative work load if this system is introduced. Principals will then have time to teach the students and take classes as well as train teachers.

Currently, Principals have hardly any time to take classes. In my opinion, it should first be introduced as a pilot project. Before introducing this system, the managers should be trained in content, methodology and the techniques of education administration.

The Principals should take an in-depth program for training the teachers, counselling students and look into the curriculum. Before implementing this system, the Education Ministry should have a discussion and consultation with school Principals and administrators”

According to the Chairman, National Education Commission (NEC), Prof. Lakshman Jayathilake, the school administration board system was proposed to the government many years ago during President Wijetunga’s period in 1993.

“I, along with G. L. Peiris and Alles proposed this system to the government. A law was passed but the Bill was not passed in Parliament due to some opposition.

This is a unique feature that each school should have. I believe, this is a very democratic thing to do. It would help solve the problems of students, teachers as well as the infrastructure issues.

The zonal and provincial directors put pressure on Principals. They always find fault with Principals during their visits. This should be stopped and they should be encouraged to work on friendly terms. Principals should be respected for the honourable job they perform. The Minister and the Secretaries at the Education Ministry should make it a point to randomly visit schools to help the management.”

Managers to schools

Appointing Managers to schools with large numbers of students will protect mega schools and close down schools with less students, Ceylon Teachers’ Union General Secretary, Joseph Stalin alleged. “The Education Minister is planning to obtain Cabinet approval to appoint Managers to schools with more than 1,000 students, and Managers and Assistant Managers to schools with more than 2,000 students.

At present, there are 10,165 schools in the country, of which 9,185 schools have less than 1,000 students each. There are only 192 schools with more than 2,500 students, and 785 schools with 1,001-2,500 students. Hence, a majority of the schools will not have Managers.

The Government’s plan is to only improve mega schools, while neglecting the others,” he pointed out.

Stalin further said, the Ministry’s ‘Nearest school is the best school’ project will be a failure, as some will not get Managers. “The previous government promised to improve 1,000 Secondary schools, and divided Primary and Intermediate sections in some schools. It was a failure, and the popular school concept still remains.

This government too is planning to protect popular schools and enhance their standards, while ignoring smaller schools. As a Union, we object to such decisions, as they will be implemented without any assessment, and would only encourage the mega school concept,” he said.

Honorary post

The Vice Principal, Ladies’ College, Deepika Dassenaike said, “At Ladies’ College, one of the oldest private girls’ schools in Colombo, we have had a Manager for years.

An administrative system with a Manager has been at Ladies’ for over 50 years. The post of Manager is an honorary post with no remuneration involved.”

The Sunday Observer sought the opinions of several National School Principals on the new system where managers would be appointed to schools but none of them offered to comment.

They responded in a negative manner and seemed to dislike the system, believing it would lessen their authority.