I WAS pleased to read the letter "Pick the best as school head" by Liong Kam Chong from Seremban (NST, May 4). I cannot agree more with the context of the letter.
I am sure the writer must have much more to say on this issue.
School heads should administer efficiently. Leadership in schools is about motivating, mobilising, resourcing and directing people to pursue a shared vision -- to produce positive transformation in our schools.
School heads must be mandated to undergo leadership training before being appointed to become effective leaders. The Aminuddin Baki Institute, being the Education Ministry's educational management and leadership institute, has a major role to play in this aspect.
Being a school head is a complex task. It means becoming a leader of leaders -- learning and working with others, such as teachers, students and parents to improve teaching. This can inspire the kind of commitment, devotion and service that will make our schools reach greater heights of success.
After all, those in the teaching fraternity do not want schools to be labelled as the most failing of all our society's institutions.
Remember, leadership is not about position, but the capabilities a leader demonstrates and the good job accomplished.
Perhaps all school heads should also be mandated to accept the model of "transformational leadership" to have a positive impact on important aspects of teacher morale and, on a larger scale, school organisational climate. Teachers will welcome this kind of leadership.
Future appointments of school heads should not merely be an administrative and promotional exercise. School heads must be adequately trained before they are offered these promotional posts so that they would be professionally competent.
They must have all the necessary knowledge and skills to transform their schools. Concepts and skills on transformational leadership or instructional leadership could be one of the compulsory topics in the training modules.
Such leadership training should enable them to be equipped with the correct knowledge, skills and attitude as school heads, besides having the managerial and administrative skills to run schools.
There is no leadership development process that occurs overnight but proper training would enable them deliver their job well and become role models in their schools.
Schools need positive leadership and it is vital that our schools are effectively managed. Numerous studies of successful schools point to the same conclusion -- no matter how competently managed the schools are, it is the extra quality of leadership that makes the difference between ordinary and extra-ordinary performance.
Personally, I am not convinced that the first thing to do is to choose people who do not know much about school leadership or do not know about why it applies to them to administer a school.
Or else, those in charge of selecting and appointing them as school heads should not point their accusing fingers at the school heads if their schools are categorised as "failing schools".
It might be a good move for those in authority to figure out what type of school is the best place for a particular school head, based on his or her motivations and abilities.
Senior or excellent principals should be given the task of administering or leading schools that are ranked the lowest in the "league table" in all states so as to prove their abilities and excellence to improve such schools, at least marginally.
Leader selection and leader development is critical and we need to place greater priority on both.
However, for the sake of fairness, good leaders need good followers, as much as good followers need good leaders.