Macau needs better principals for quality education: academics

Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Issue 385, Page 5
Word count: 694
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Professionalism of Macau’s school principals has room for improvement and a better management system should also be launched in order to attain quality education for Macau youths, says a research report done by Beijing academics last year.

The findings of the research on local principals’ professional development were disclosed during the plenary meeting of the Education Committee which was chaired by Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Chui Sai On at the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau (DSEJ) yesterday.

The Secretary said successful education reform and school development required effective leadership from principals. Thus, the DSEJ commissioned the Beijing Normal University’s Faculty of Education Administration in 2007 to conduct the research in a bid to understand the current conditions and set out planning for principals’ future professional development.

According to director of the Faculty of Education Administration, Professor Chu Hongqi, Macau’s principals are generally of “high quality”, except for their ability on teaching which he added was a significant contributor to achieving quality education in the region.

“We hope principals can dedicate more time to visit classrooms so as to understand more about their students and teachers, as well as the ways of teaching,” Professor Chu said.

Although DSEJ has been launching a lot of effective training activities for local principals over the past nine years since the handover, the Beijing Professor said, “social changes and education reform have imposed higher demands on school leaders”.

He said the existing training system needed to be enhanced to focus on problem-solving skills so as to help principals deal with challenges at schools.

At the same time, Professor Chu suggested the SAR government to revise principals’ management system as it was “greatly lagging behind”.

It is because, he said, the then-Portuguese administration tended to adopt a non-interference policy on Macau’s education system which led to “impaired standards and requirements” for local principals.

“Macau still has principals who are in their 80s. We agree on the SAR government’s proposal to impose a 65-year-old cap for principals as it will better meet the demands for an education reform,” Professor Chu said.

“We suggest in the report to develop systems on training, evaluation as well as salary which will place emphasis on building professional standards for principals,” he added.

Student welfare, schools sponsorship

The Education Committee yesterday also heard the DSEJ’s suggestions on the reform of the Non-Tertiary Education System Framework Law.

The bureau proposed to change “tuition allowance” to “tuition assistance” and “educational supplies allowance” to “school supplies allowance” so that the DSEJ spokeswoman said more families with financial difficulties could benefit from the extension of the aids.

The DSEJ also suggested entitling the administration management committee with the competency to provide aids in the forms of allowance or services to students with special needs in order to ensure them a proper schooling, the spokeswoman said.

As for the sponsorship program for schools which reach the required ratio of class to teacher and teacher to student, the DSEJ said they will extend the program to local high schools in the next academic year 2008/09.

Introduced in 2006, 284 classes from 41 kindergartens or 87.4 percent of the total number of classes in Macau have received an allowance of 50,000 patacas after maintaining either a class/teacher ratio of 1 to 1.5 or a teacher/student ratio of 1 to 25.

Since 2007 when primary schools have also been introduced the sponsorship, 717 classes from 48 schools or nearly 78 percent of the total number of primary school classes in Macau were also qualified for the same amount of allowance after reaching the 1:1.8 class/teacher ration or the 1:25 teacher/student ratio.

For high schools who wish to obtain the allowance next year, the DSEJ said they are required to meet either the class/teacher ratio of 1:2.1 or the 1:25 teacher/student ratio.

The spokeswoman said the bureau may have room to further reduce the ratios according to the effectiveness of the program and future social demands.

Yesterday’s meeting also saw the DSEJ report on the operation of the 1.4 billion pataca education development foundation which aims to support and promote educational programs and activities for the non-tertiary education area between 2007 and 2010.

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