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Absent heads provoke row


A public outcry has followed the revelation that two-thirds of principals are rarely in school.

According to a survey by the National Union of the Teaching Profession, principals are too busy attending meetings called by the education department and district education offices.

N Siva Subramaniam, the union's secretary general, is sceptical about the usefulness of many of the meetings. "We believe that it is unnecessary for heads and principals to attend most of the functions which they have been invited to," he said. He added that one head had spent 190 days in a year attending meetings.

The survey of 189 primary and 83 secondary heads was conducted earlier this year. The row that followed its publication has driven theeducation ministry to promise to improveco-ordination of its meetings and courses so that principals are away from their schools less frequently.

The survey also revealed that 70 per cent of school heads could not meet the ministry requirement to teach at least six lessons per week. This was deplored by the NUTP, which argued that as a result heads were losing their teaching skills and were out of touch with the classroom.

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