The following article titled ‘Catholic Education Board of Management: Our Goals for the period 2017-2020’ was submitted by its Chairman, Dr Roland G Baptiste.
The ‘Priests Can Cook’ fundraising initiative has recently placed Catholic schools in focus. It is an opportune time for the Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM) that has responsibility for those schools to provide the Roman Catholic community with accurate information about its work.
The CEBM is responsible for overseeing the functioning of 119 Government-assisted primary schools, 5 Government-assisted secondary schools, and 1 private secondary school. It functions in the context of the Concordat of 1960 which spells out the relationship between the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and Denominational School Boards. By virtue of the Concordat, the CEBM shares the responsibility for management of its schools with the Ministry of Education and the Teaching Service Commission.
This is not the place to open a discussion on the Concordat, except to say that its full title captures its content. The title is: ‘The Concordat of 1960: Assurances for the Preservation and Character of Denominational Schools’.
For us the objective of Catholic education is to make disciples of Christ; to produce men and women who have positive values which they take everywhere as they optimise their talents and influence the society. Over the years Catholic schools have produced such people, and this is fact. The task for each generation is to continue doing this work even as challenges change with time and circumstances.
Our schools are located in all parts of this country, serving every possible demographic. Using the Ministry of Education’s measures, we have high-performing schools in every part of the country, but we also have many schools that are not performing well.
When the current board took office, we inherited a Quality Assurance Programme which we introduced to our schools on a phased basis. Today all our primary schools have been brought into the programme. Some schools have jumped ahead of others in its implementation and we are starting to see the results. But there is a long way to go. This brings us to the strategic plan (2017–2020) that we are about to implement.
In order to achieve our objectives, we will focus on three themes in the current strategic planning and executing period.
Excellence in Education
Catholicism and Social Responsibility in Education
Resourcing Capacity, Capability, and Efficiency
We see ‘Excellence in Education’ as referring to a system anchored in the Catholic tradition, that develops all the talents of our students, including their social and emotional intelligence; that develops their confidence; their willingness to take responsibility for their actions; and their determination to attain their full potential in a constantly changing environment.
By our second theme we signal the importance we place on fostering positive relations within our schools and then between our system of schools and our stakeholders in the wider society. The third theme ‘Resourcing Capacity, Capability, and Efficiency’ points to our determination to build a Catholic education system that is more self-sufficient, integrated, environmentally responsible, well-resourced and maintained.
Accordingly, we will work to ensure that all primary schools practice quality assurance and implement improvement interventions. Schools that demonstrate improvement will be publicly recognised at an annual prize-giving ceremony. But we will go beyond this. We will challenge our principals to implement innovative initiatives that are customised for the communities in which their schools exist.
Many schools are already doing this; we propose to fully support these efforts and to publicise them widely.
An important part of the experience we wish to offer our students are co-curricular activities. And so, we will encourage our principals to broaden and deepen cultural and sporting activities. Finally, we accept the reality of the current economic climate. Neither the Ministry of Education nor the Chancery will be able to completely provide for our schools. Accordingly, we will engage in a variety of fundraising activities.
As we look to the future we are aware that we will not achieve our goals if we depend entirely on our own efforts, and so we humbly turn to the Holy Spirit to take us there.