AS I hinted last week, institutionalising means creating an environment that leads to the school being respected and easily recognised. It is more like the branding that is characteristic with the corporate world.
The process of achieving this status simply revolves around creating an impressive academic record, a commendable disciplinary level as well as promotion of extra and co-curricular activities to a level of excellence.
This in turn attracts lots of respect from students, parents, policy makers and even future employers.
Creating an impressive academic record for a school requires changing the attitudes that students have on education in general.
Students need to be taught at the very onset that education redeems and opens up several opportunities for those who aspire for success.
School owners need to have invested in establishing the necessary academic infrastructure to enable students attain good grades.
A well stocked library, science labs, a computer lab, good classrooms and halls of residence should not be seen as luxuries but necessities.
Once qualified teachers have been sourced, the school should then embark on a program of retaining them, evaluating and even training them where possible.
Good teachers are not so hard to keep as long as things like transport, medical insurance and accommodation are adequately taken care of.
They should be regularly evaluated and offered training opportunities to make them better facilitators of the education process.
The aim here is to cut down on the detrimental staff turnover. I am always happy to see that some of the teachers who taught me 15 years ago are still serving in the same schools I went to.
Contrast this with schools where teachers hardly spend four years and you will get my point.
The school administration should be decentralised with departments that handle different aspects of the school’s management.
The tendency for the headmaster and disciplinary master being like policemen while the rest of the staff are like part time volunteers is not good a sustainable management model.
There should be a well composed disciplinary committee to deal with cases of misconduct. The committee should be guided by set school rules and societal morals and not mere emotions.
It should be work hand in hand with the students’ prefect body which should also be empowered to perform as expected.
The prefects should not act like spies but should be empowered enough to ensure the prevalence of discipline even in the absence of teachers.
More so, parents should be brought on board to support the school programmes and their students in order to achieve success. Parents should know what the school expects of them and their children from the very beginning.
A good institutionalised school is one that has put in place, structures and policies that enable it to function effectively as an institution whose strength is captured in the functioning of these structures and not the character of individuals.
Students should be able to stay in class even when the teacher is not around. Salaries should be paid even when the headmaster is not around and disciplinary cases should be handled accordingly even by the fellow students.
I knew of a school where the prefects’ body consisted of a panel of judges who solved and advised on students’ disputes and conduct.
Do the students who attend your school really feel any considerable attachment other than that created by having paid school dues to the school’s bank account? Are they impressed by the school’s academic disciplinary record and general history?
New schools should think about the above if they intend to turn their schools into exceptional with a good reputation.
A Kenyan education magazine once quoted a headmaster explaining the continued success of Alliance High School (Kenya).
He pointed out that students are not expected to walk but run in the school compound during class hours since, “Alliance is a school for leaders who should always be on the move to lead.”