Opinion

School Governance And Accountability

Mahsood Shah is an Associate Professor with the University of Newcastle, Australia. Shah is also an adjunct with the University of Canberra, Australia. The views in this article are his
21 Oct 2015 10:30
School  Governance And Accountability
Minister for Education Mahendra Reddy.

Mahsood Shah is an Associate Professor with the University of Newcastle, Australia. Shah is also an adjunct with the University of Canberra, Australia. The views in this article are his own and not of the University, nor the Fiji Sun.

The success of any organisation is dependent on the governance and accountability of the management.

Good governance provides confidence to various stakeholders regarding the organisation’s strategy, policy, and performance.

Good governance places accountability on senior managers and staff at all levels to uphold high ethical standards and deliver performance.

Many studies have shown that if institutions have poor governance, there are risks associated with planning failures, financial risk, loss of customers thus affecting profit, high staff turnover, and loss of trust between the organisation and its stakeholders.

Robust governance is important in public sector organisations in developing countries.

In such countries, public servants are exposed to corruption, and in some instances, lack of training and education about ethical standards as public servants.

Schools play a key role in educating citizens and preparing students for tertiary study.

The governance and accountability on school management and teachers is significant.

The school management is accountable to the government which provides funding. Principals as public servants are also accountable to the government.

Teachers are accountable to the Government and students and the broader community to ensure that they are delivering high quality teaching with high ethical standards.

Government funding of school comes from taxpayers’ money, therefore the government, school management, principals and the teachers are accountable to the general public.

School governance in Fiji has been an area of focus in recent years by the Bainimarama Government.

Significant effort has been made to ensure that school management is discharging its roles and responsibilities in ethical manner.

Failure of school management is widely known in various schools.

They range from misuse of funds, lack of oversight on finance, creating racial divide between communities and sometimes teachers, conflict between the principals and committee members, recruiting family and friends in school committees, and the list goes on.

Some of the contributing factors of the failure are lack of systematic and independent review by the Government on school governance and accountability, and lack of training and induction of people who are in school management on their roles and responsibilities.

The Bainimarama Government has, to some extent, addressed this by putting measures to ensure robust governance of schools.

With increased public funding per student, the school management, principals and teachers are now accountable to deliver outcomes.

The public is now well informed about Government policies and they are increasingly aware of avenues where they can raise their voices about poor governance and management of schools.

The public is also aware of avenues where complaints can be lodged directly to Government.

The Government has no mercy on public servants when it comes to complaints, and there is a tendency to listen to the voice of the public although some complaints are personal and may not be genuine.

At times, we tend to forget the circumstances in which principals and teachers have taken actions.

As qualified practitioners, teachers also have the responsibility to ensure high ethical and moral standards.

They are also a role model in the community given their responsibility to educate citizens.

As we move forward with increased accountability on school management, principals and teachers, there is a need to improve the quality of teaching and student engagement in learning.

Improving the quality of teaching and student engagement is the key to student success in school and tertiary education.

With increased financial support for students, both schools and tertiary education institutions have witnessed growth.

The Government has truly opened up access and opportunity for under-represented students to participate in education.

If quality of education and student engagement is compromised with a focus on quantity, then quality is at risk and we may not be preparing for student success in tertiary study and employment to align with industry needs.

To improve the quality and standard of school education, there is a need for a national school quality and excellence framework which requires monitoring by an independent agency which undertakes systematic reviews and the outcome is linked to funding and reward.

The review could focus on governance and management, quality of teaching, student support, teaching infrastructure and facilities, educational outcomes of students, and teacher training and development.

Enhancement led reviews and linking performance with reward will improve quality and standard of education in schools and it will align with international developments in other countries.

It will also foster and promote a quality and improvement culture which is needed in schools and tertiary education institutions in Fiji.

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 

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