REFORMING an education system is a monumental task, so how does one even begin?
The main priority of any education reform effort should be the students. As obvious as this may sound, when dealing with the political and policy intricacies of implementing a complex reform, it is easy to lose sight of this overarching goal.
An education minister should choose to be a minister of students’ future whereby his main duty is the education and training of students and their employment prospects.
In addition, the minister must spend his/her political capital at the beginning of his/her term, when this capital is possibly at its highest, to make difficult but important decisions.
It is important to have early achievements, as these accomplishments would allow the minister to work on projects with long-term results and governability.
If the education minister wants to develop a meaningful relationship with the research community, dialogue should be a constant activity.
The minister must visit schools, encourage students and parents, and dignify education. If the person succeeds in these apparently simple tasks, he/she can be confident in becoming an excellent minister.
Indubitably, communication with teachers is always critical, hence it is useful to create forums and other spaces in which to discuss policies with them. In current times, the Internet and social media are effective means not only to communicate the policies and actions of the ministry but also to listen and consider different viewpoints.
Finally, policies are intentions, and implementation and execution are what enable those intentions to produce results. Ultimately, an education minister is accountable for results, not for intentions.
R. Murali Rajaratenam
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