School Director or Accountant

School Director―I guess those who had any kind of education have seen this person.
But for someone like me who didn’t have much relationship with them, it might be hard to understand what they are doing except giving a long speech at any circumstances or saying good morning in front of the school entrance.

Given that there is another movement of their role in Chile in parallel to the educational reform I mentioned on the previous entry, I would like to take this opportunity to talk a little bit about them.

As I said last time, Chilean Ministry of Education is trying to get rid of Private Schools with Public Subsidy, which means they have to have better understanding on how much subsidy is distributed to each school. And this April, the Ministry told each school to inform more disaggregated financial data to them. Guess who would do that job? Yes, school director!

In general, the rolls of school directors consist of administrative work, instruction, supervision, evaluation, public relation labor, search for the resource and the professional development activities. So obviously it’s not about giving a long speech or saying good morning at the gate but they have many things to do.

According to the academic research (El Mercurio) which analyzed 2.580 school directors in 16 countries in the region, Chilean directors are the ones who spend the most time on paper work, with 31% of administrative work as opposed to 12% of pedagogical work. And the new demand from the Ministry to inform more financial data will make them sit down more to work on paper work.

If a school has budget to hire accountant, it’s fine but if not, it’s more burden to them. Some schools have called in their graduates as accountants because it is physically impossible for some directors to do all the paper work besides their regular duties. If they don’t have either resource nor graduates who can help, they just stay late at schools doing their endless “Homework”.

I think the lessons learned from this case is that policy making is really important but has to be planned well and implemented gradually and carefully. Chilean government wanted to get rid of inequality (which is really important to tackle), and is trying to make a radical change, which demanded more data from schools without much support, and school directors are spending more time on desk work.

Directors are the ones with many years of experience in education, not financial officer. So although managing the financial data is really important to maintain the school, having them work much less on pedagogical issue is not a smart choice because they have a lot to say to teachers, parents and students, including a long speech and “Good Morning”.


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