THE world around us continues to evolve well into the second decade of the 21st century.
It in turn has great impact on the way we see things and on how we live. As gadgets, devices and appliances become more intelligent, people become more demanding.
From mere means of communications to becoming stylish communications accessories, the phone, for example, is no longer just a phone.
We can also trace these changes in our transportation, our television sets and even in TV programmes. Whether we realise it or not, these are just our own way of staying relevant in changing times.
Important as it is to stay relevant, many societies also work to maintain certain values and standards whilst keeping ahead with others.
This places great emphasis on education. There is a greater need to prepare children and youths for time, which may not necessarily be something that adults now can predict.
As such school is no longer limited to reading, writing and counting.
School is no longer just rooms with chairs, desks and blackboards. School is now about building the capacity of children in many ways.
Within the walls of a school, a teacher is helping a child against illiteracy; instilling values so that students become responsible citizens and building the confidence of a child through his/her ICT and co-curricular activities.
With many things happening within the school, the leadership and management of a school becomes even more challenging.
In Brunei Darussalam, a way to improve the management of our educational institutions is through granting autonomy guided through its definition, scope and degree of accountability.
This is seen as essential in building good leadership, shared responsibility and trust, yielding a highly effective system of teaching, curriculum, assessment and support that in turn raises school achievement.
Through the School Leadership Forum 2015 held on January 7, deliberations from over 400 strong school leaders and senior teachers were consolidated to define school leaders’ autonomy as “the areas and degrees of authority delegated from the Ministry of Education to school leaders in order for them to make the best decision according to their schools’ needs and community, by promoting flexible, responsive and accountable corporate governance”.
The degree, scope and types of autonomy vary widely among countries. OECD cites that autonomy in allocating resources is greatest in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the partner country Bulgaria and the partner economy Macao-China.
However, the partner country Bulgaria and the partner economy Shanghai-China although granting high levels of school autonomy in allocating resources, do not grant autonomy for determining curricula and assessment practices.
As of January 2015, school leaders are given the autonomy based on curriculum; assessment; and teaching and learning resources.
With a degree of independence on these aspects, greater ownership will likely entail and there is greater hope for school leaders to operate within a culture of accountability.
With the 2017 national primary education target for at least 90 per cent pupils achieving grades A to C, the move in granting autonomy in these areas are steps towards enhancing our primary education system.
Apart from the accountability placed on school leaders, it is also a responsibility that should be shared by teachers, parent and the community for the betterment of our future generation.
With initial focus on the three areas (curriculum, assessment and teaching, and learning resources), school leaders will have a taste of independence in deciding in these areas based on their school profile whilst at the same time having greater accountability to their school performance – two things which are tied together.
Focusing on these three areas for our schools seems set in the right direction.
As found through OECD’s PISA finding, “autonomy and accountability go together – greater autonomy in decisions relating to curricula, assessment and relating to curricula, assessments and resource allocation tend to be associated with better student performance, particularly when schools operate within the culture of accountability”. – (Courtesy of Ministry of Education)