By Anna Ingwafa
Ohangwena learning circuit held a week-long induction workshop for newly appointed school principals in Oshakati recently.
Director of Education in Ohangwena Region, Josia Udjombala, told the principals that in recent years the quest for quality education has resulted in a number of initiatives which have made significant demands on public sector schools, amongst which is learner-centered education – the national standards and performance indicator for school and quality education for all by the end of 2015.
Under these demands, the role and responsibilities of school principals have changed significantly.
In return for accountability, principals are now given more authority and flexibility in the deployment of financial resources, staff matters, curricula and other professional, managerial and operational matters.
“With wider participation in school management by various stakeholders such as teachers and parents, you now need to work together with them, listen to and accommodate diverse views and be responsible to them for the performance of the school.
Hence, school leadership in the context of the new demands and challenges requires a paradigm shift, moving from the traditional concentration on maintenance and hierarchy to change, collegiality, teamwork, improvement and effectiveness,” said Udjombala.
Udjombala noted that most of the old expected jobs for principals is gotten away with. Increasingly, government accountability systems are placing the burden of school success and individual learners’ achievement squarely on the principal’s shoulders.
He said the school principal’s job description has expanded to a point where today’s school leaders are expected to perform in the role of chief learning officers, with ultimate responsibility for the success or failure of the institution.
“Today’s principal must be prepared to focus time, attention and effort on challenging what learners are taught, how they are taught and what they are learning. This formidable challenge demands a new breed of school principal with skills, knowledge and attitudes far greater that those expected of school principals in the past.”
However, he cautioned them of the new challenges brought forth by the advances in technology and higher expectations on education from the community that includes: the use of information technology to support learning and teaching, and the adaptation of the school curriculum to suit the ability of disposition of learners so as to maximise the potential of, and not to give up on each individual learners.
New challenges also include increasing community expectations for improvements to the education system and the quality of learning processes and outcomes, a growing awareness of teacher professionalism and globalization of the world economy, and the emergence of a knowledge-based economy which demands workers with multiple intelligence and creativity.
According to Udjombala, the induction programme is designed to introduce the new principal to the most basic of school management and administration, and also to equip them with knowledge, skills and attitudes to become competent leaders to lead our schools through the millennium.
It is further designed to meet the individual needs and seek to develop their professional skills and capabilities so that one can work effectively with their colleagues and communities to improve teaching and learning in schools.
“We are giving you this professional support because we feel very strongly that our schools need to change fundamentally. As leaders in schools, you must decide on the school’s goals in terms for instance, of expected learner behaviour outcomes based on public expectation. You must assign duties, plan ahead and establish ways of getting the duties performed.”
He urged them to initiate changes in their schools and ignite goals and methods of achieving them, calling them to be both an administrator and a leader.
Udjombala emphasised that the education directorate needs leaders who will display leadership actions that move schools and community towards continual renewal and leaders that display transformative styles.
“We need leaders who will see their prime purpose as leading the learning in their school and who are constantly exploring ways of improving outcomes for learners by implementing quality teaching and learning programmes.
“We need leaders who will focus on equity and ethics and those who are critically reflective of their practice, and who will continue to be like that throughout their career lifecycle,” Udjombala concluded.
The workshop will end on Friday.