LET SCHOOLS BE AUTONOMOUS

SHARE   |   Tuesday, 14 July 2020   |   By Ignatious Njobvu
LET SCHOOLS BE AUTONOMOUS

An organization is as good as its leader, so they say. One very critical factor to any educational reform is the mindset of the school leadership. The school principal in essence is key to unlocking barrier doors. In the basic education structure, education officers at regions and headquarters are mainly tasked to develop policies, in-service and inspectorate. It is the school principal and the staff that put the developed policies to action. In this structure, the school principal can be referred to as the operations or production manager. In any organisation, operations/production remain the most significant department as it serves to bring out the very reason for existence of an organisation. The society is always judging an organisation on the quality of what it produces, which in the case of education sector is human capital development. Therefore, as we strategize on reforms, we must include the aspect of empowering the leadership of schools so that they can be able to execute new policies without pointing fingers at the third party.

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Empowerment of school leaders can fully be realised through decentralisation. The current setup has centralised authority at the headquarters. This culminates into very tedious bureaucratic procedures whenever interventions are sought. Decentralization increases the morale of the organisation by placing each operation in its own foundation, making it feel it is part of the corporation, assuming its own responsibility and contributing its share to the final result ‘Alfred P. Sloane, 1963’. Decentralization will push both responsibility and decision-making closer to the schools, to the people who really handle day to day school business. This will definitely eliminate much of the time consuming back-and-forth between operations and head office.

Decentralization allows return on investment to be measured division by division. This enables direct placing of additional capital where it will result in the greatest benefit to the organisation as a whole. To put this into context, procurement and maintenance funds should be controlled by school leaders. Principals can negotiate at a cheaper price resources for teaching and learning. They could be prompt in replacing or maintaining infrastructure. They could also source cheaper feeding for the students. If principals could have such privilege, they could even come up with tangible means of raising funds for their schools.

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Principals should also have direct influence in the development of staff. Knowing the needs of various departments, the principal should have the ability to expose the staff to a variety of professional development exercises. In the same vein, the principal should be able to reward deserving staff with progressions. They should have a say on who deputises them. In this way, the head office can then have all the rights to hold the principal accountable for what is happening and not happening in schools. So critical would be the principal that it would take a very virtuous candidate to occupy the office. By so doing, proper adjustments pertaining to the envisaged reforms will prevail. Efficiency and productivity will then follow automatically in the learning institutions.

Botswana – Outcome Based Education 2021 #B-OBE2021

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