The education secretary assumed office in September of 2012. One of the first projects subsequently completed was the development of a questionnaire disbursed to 20 principals in counties that have Quaker schools. It was hoped that the information gained would provide quality data, creating a proper roadmap for beginning this ministerial work.
The responses revealed several challenges: inadequate funding; inadequate facilities; low parental and community participation in school activities and programs; a shortage of teachers; a high rate of girls dropping out of school; insufficient land for expansion and limited teaching and learning materials.
A strategic plan to tackle some of these challenges was formed to include short-term and long-term goals. Basically, the plan includes peer-driven professional learning forums, leadership improvement seminars, training for teachers and ecumenical networking to build partnerships within the communities in which schools are located.
The education secretary also visited a number of schools to monitor the peace education curriculum and its implementation. Meetings were held with the education secretaries, the Quaker principals and the executive committee.
Having been newly created, this is a challenging position. The most important goals of the education secretary are to establish a protocol for this position, to tackle the challenges mentioned and to create a network of individuals who will work together developing the best schools for our children.