STRENGTHENING SCHOOL BOARDS PROGRAM

Project Goal:
Strengthen School Board capacities to govern the school, as defined by the law, that will facilitate democratization and decentralization processes on the school level.

Project Strategic Objective:

  • Provide information and knowledge on School Boards roles, rights and duties through training and mentoring activities and dissemination of School Board Manual.
  • Empower School Boards to cope with their responsibilities through sharing the best practices and clearly defined procedures and practices.
  • Encourage activities for improvement of close cooperation of all stakeholders in school governance for the best interest of the students and the school.

Timeframe:
Start Date:  April 2009 / Completion Date: April 2010

Funding: United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Human and Institutional Development Program managed by World Learning / Macedonia
http://www.usaid.org.mk and http://www.worldlearning.org.mk/

Project stakeholders:
School Boards and school secretaries from all secondary and primary schools in Republic of Macedonia were targeted with the training and mentoring activities. There are 441 schools in the Republic of Macedonia (94 secondary and 347 primary schools). Primary schools have 9 members in their school boards whereas secondary schools have 12 members in their school boards. The total number of targeting participants in the program was 4692 (10 x 347 + 13 x 94).

The training in all three cycles was organized in 31 regional centers, in groups of 20 to 28 participants. Training was offered in Macedonian and in Albanian language. 3 school board members (parent, teacher and representative of the founder) and school secretary from each primary and secondary school were invited to the training, totaling 1764 invited participants, in each of the three training cycles.

Mentoring sessions were organized for the whole school board in their schools on the topics and issues covered in the training, as a follow up to the training. All 441 schools were visited three times by MCEC mentors. Mentoring sessions targeted 4692 school board members and school secretaries.

Project Background:
Following adoption of the decentralization package of laws in 2005 transfer of powers began in education from central to local and school level strongly affecting the whole education system. School governance and management were redefined with these laws, giving more autonomy to schools. School director received more power in managing human and financial resources and school infrastructure. At the same time School Boards were reestablished as the governing body of the school with more powers in school governance encompassing important functions directly affecting the quality of education the school provides for students. The Education Laws clearly determine the composition, the roles and responsibilities of the School Boards. All stakeholders in school governance are equally represented and have the voting power.

The need to build School Boards capacities to take over their legally defined roles and responsibilities and cope with challenges imposed by politically driven forces was recognized by both Macedonian Ministry of Education and Science and international donor community. There were several smaller interventions in this area. The biggest one, covering all School Boards, was USAID funded intervention through Secondary Education Activity (SEA) project. Working with a School Board Task Force composed of representatives of all stake holders in school governance, SEA developed a practical manual and organized country wide one-day awareness-raising trainings for school boards with practical examples of some of the responsibilities and how to deal with them in support of the school and the students best interest. This intervention showed that there is a strong interest and responsiveness among School Board members from all three stakeholders (teachers, parents, and founder / municipality or MOES) for clarification of their legally defined responsibilities. It also showed the depth of the need for further support to strengthen their real life role in governing the school for their strong vested interest through their children. Closing down SEA project left recommendations for further support.

At the same time USAID and the Ministry of Education and Science recognized the need for further support to School Boards and the momentum created by SEA activities. Consequently USAID funded the School Board Program through Human and Institutional Development Program / World Learning. Macedonian Civic Education Center (MCEC) was responsible to design and implement Strengthening School Boards program

Project summary:
This project targeted the School Boards as governing body of the school aiming to strengthen it to take over its legally defined roles and responsibilities in decentralized education system. School Boards, established as a decision-making body responsible for school governance to create checks and balances on the school level, are an essential part of school administration in decentralized education system in the Republic of Macedonia. MCEC, working closely with central and local education authorities, targeted school boards in all primary and secondary schools in the Republic of Macedonia to build their capacities in dealing with governing issues in their schools and building partnerships with local communities to support the schools in efforts to provide quality education to its students and improve their learning outcomes. Project activities were tailored to equip the school board members with necessary knowledge and skills to cope with newly defined functions covering school vision with strategic planning, selection of key personnel, financial supervision, quality assurance, students’ well-being, local community involvement, and enhancement of the relationship with central and local authorities.

MCEC promoted School Board Manual, incorporating functions along with clearly defined procedures and samples of strategic documents and processes, as a very comprehensive tool to assist the school board members in their work. This Manual was the basis of the training and mentoring activities to be provided for the school boards throughout the country. Three cycles of training and mentoring activities were organized with local trainers and mentors regionally. Training was provided for three members of school boards, representing teachers, parents and school founder, plus school administrator. Municipality representatives as school governance stakeholders supporting school on local municipal level were invited to participate in the trainings. Mentoring session were organized for each school board on school level as a follow up after the training, the mentors guided the each school board members in addressing issues specific to the school.

Implemented Activities

  • Developing school board members’ data base – MCEC contacted all primary and secondary schools to collect information on the actual members in the School Boards and school secretaries and use the list as a planning tool for training and mentoring activities.
  • Training for trainers and mentors – Three training sessions were organized for training of trainers and mentors in specific school governance related content aiming to well prepare trainers for their work with school boards representatives as each training session will need to offer an unique approach in motivating SB representatives and raising their interest for active participation on the training sessions.
  • School Board Manual – The Manual was developed as a comprehensive tool to assist the school board members in their work will be disseminated at the training and mentoring sessions to all school board members. The manual was printed on Macedonian and Albanian language.
  • Training for school board representatives – Regional training were organized as three non-consecutive training days for four representatives from school board including teacher, parent, founder-municipality or MOES plus one school secretary from all primary and secondary schools. Training in Macedonian and Albanian, in separate groups, will be offered in the areas with mixed population. The training program comprised the following modules:
  • Module 1 – covered in Cycle 1:
    • School Board Roles and Responsibilities – Decentralization and school benefits; School Board legal roles and responsibilities; Key work of School Board.
    • Strategic Documents adopted by School Board Planning and Reporting; School Statute;  School Annual Work Plan; School Board Annual Work Plan; School Development Plan; Internal school regulations.
  • Module 2 – covered in Cycle 2:
    • School Board and school finances – Money flow in decentralized education; Budget cycle in school; Financial plan; School accounts; School Board and procurement in school; Capital investments in school; Additional school funds; Control mechanisms; Reporting.
    • Communications key to building partnerships Building partnerships; Communications; Ethics; Creating positive atmosphere in school; Conflict resolution; Meetings; Public relations.
  • Module 3 – covered in Cycle 3:
    • Quality Assurance and School Board effectiveness – Total Quality Management in education; Quality Assurance – national, local and school level; School Board role in Quality Assurance; Code of Ethics; School Self-evaluation; School Integral Evaluation
    • Legislation and legislative procedures Education Laws; New laws and benefits for schools; Legal procedures; Importance of procedures; Graphical charts of procedures.
    • School Board and school finances – Money flow in decentralized education; Budget cycle in school; Financial plan; School accounts; School Board and procurement in school; Capital investments in school; Additional school funds; Control mechanisms; Reporting.
  • Mentoring of school boards – Mentoring sessions were organized after each training session to transfer the knowledge from the training sessions to all members of the school boards and to provide ‘real-time’ guidance and advice in addressing issues that arise during school board meetings.

Accomplished results:

  • Increased nationwide awareness of the importance of school boards in governing the schools.
  • School Boards empowered to govern the schools and take over their roles and responsibilities as defined by laws and bylaws.
  • Strengthened capacities of School Boards to deal with school governance issues in the best interest of the students
  • Enhanced cooperation of all stakeholders: parents, teachers, local and central education authorities, in school governance, in the best interest of the school and the students.
  • School Boards promoting schools as learning organizations and centers of excellence serving its community.