THE importance of leadership has been well highlighted in the Education Blueprint (2013-2025).
Leadership has been identified as one of the key imperatives in transforming the quality of education within 13 years as charted in the blueprint.
Head of schools, for example, are expected to not only be administrative leaders but also take on the role of instructional or academic leaders as well.
The latter role has been neglected to the extent that teachers do not receive proper professional guidance or advice in executing their duties in classrooms.
More often than not, teachers have little engagement in professional matters with school heads.
This minimises the authority and leadership of heads of schools, and breeds it own problems in acculturating quality education.
While various strategies outlined in the blueprint are being implemented, we got a glimpse of happenings on the ground when the Education Ministry recently held a mid-term review to assess this year’s performance.
At the two-day gathering, ministry officials shared the implementations to date, and discussed the achievements so far in some detail.
The feedback and input of some 200 participants — ranging from top brass to invited individuals with a keen interest in education — were sought after at an event dubbed the “gallery walk”.
Dialogues between the policy makers, implementers and practitioners helped to bridge understanding to close the gaps to realise targeted transformation for the year.
A show-and-tell by select principals and a Parent-Teacher Association chairman who elaborated on the “how” in executing leadership in their own school was an eye-opener.
One head of school shared his experiences in meeting the requirements of the Programme for International Student Assessment to successfully match international benchmarks.
Another delved into the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study.
Still another discussed mobilising the involvement of parents and the community to voluntarily take responsibility for improving school facilities and therefore, the learning milieu simultaneously.
What was common in all these cases was apparent, though not unexpected.
Firstly, it is boldness — the single-mindedness to make things happen by leading appropriate initiatives in the school.
Secondly is the passion for infusing high values and morale to bring everyone on-board. This included creating motivating slogans and songs meant as a reminder of the mission ahead.
Thirdly is the excellent level of cooperation and teamwork that each leadership was able to sustain and realise in getting the job done, fired up by creativity and sacrifice.
The high note was when parents, the community and other stakeholders truly got involved in embracing the mission of the school. The majority of the audience were in total agreement that future school leadership must mirror what they had witnessed at the show-and-tell.
Invariably such traits tend to snowball, garnering even greater feats to be emulated by others. Such is the importance of leadership in leveraging actions as opposed to being a mere seat-warmer.
In this regard, Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Professor Mashhor Mansor’s letter to the editor (NST, Aug 17) expressing his concern about the poor state of scientific research is food for thought.
Non-monetary rewards and incentives go a long way to make good leaders great. Mashhor opinioned that much could still be done.
However, poor or non-performance when wrongly “rewarded” will disincentivise others.
This sends confusing and disturbing signals that, in reality, performance is not as serious a consideration as it is made out to be in the selection or retaining of leaders to upscale the quality of education. Subsequently, the future remains bleak — what with high expectations arising from a transformed education culture and practices — unless the right leaders are painstakingly chosen based on rigorous track records.
Otherwise, a culture of mediocrity like “fish that rot from the head” (Learning Curve, June 15) will continue to breed. NST Learning Curve 24/08/2014