Demoting head teachers will not improve grades

The reactive responses to poor performance of schools in national examinations will not improve the overall quality of education. Districts that register dismal performance should, through their leaders, engage the Ministry of Education to develop long-term measures to gradually improve grades instead of turning their wrath on school head teachers and other teaching staff.
Last week, Daily Monitor reported a case in Yumbe District where councillors agreed to demote non-performing head teachers. The decision follows poor performance of schools in the district in national examinations. The councillors resolved that head teachers of poor performing schools should be demoted to classroom teachers. Ms Charity Farida, a councillor said: “There is need to relegate ineffective head teachers to the classroom and audit be instituted in the schools. They should sign performance agreements.”
Ms Farida makes a valid point when she raises the crucial issue of audits. In any organisation, accountability is key and teachers, like all employees, have a responsibility to respect their terms of employment.
However, Farida’s comment – and by extension the decision of the Yumbe councillors – is counterproductive. Last year, Mukono District made a similar decision to demote 24 primary school head teachers following poor performance by their schools. While such attempts give the impression that the authorities are addressing the challenges facing schools, kneejerk reactions are usually cosmetic.
Granted, there is growing concern about poor performance by schools in some regions and the area leaders are rightly concerned. The response, however, should be well-thought-out steps taken must be corrective, not just punitive.
The first step would be to identify why the schools in question register poor grades. Is it the quality of the teaching staff, or lack of requirements such as scholastic materials? Do the schools have well-equipped science labs? These are some of the questions schools should address before hastily demoting head teachers. If, for instance, a school performs poorly in sciences because it lacks a well-equipped science lab, what is the demoted head teacher expected to do to improve performance in sciences without an equipped lab?
Efforts to improve performance in schools are well-intentioned and should be supported. However, the decisions should be realistic and should take into consideration the plight of schools and conditions under which teachers, especially in rural schools, operate.
Drastic measures such as demotion of head teachers will not improve grades wide-ranging reforms that address core challenges facing schools, will.

The issue: Addressing poor performance
Our view: Efforts to improve performance in schools are well-intentioned and should be supported. However, the decisions should be realistic…

SOURCE: Daily Monitor


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