New and returning school board members will have a clearer understanding of their roles, that will help them focus on student achievement, with new amendments to the Education Act. Education Minister Ramona Jennex introduced legislation today, Nov. 15, that clarifies the duties of elected school board members. “School board members want to make a difference and serve the best interests of students, but they haven’t had a clear, legislated definition of their roles,” said Ms. Jennex. “By changing that, we are making it easier for elected board members to focus on the big picture and put student learning first.” Last November, a Deloitte audit of the South Shore Regional School Board recommended that the province help school board members understand their roles and responsibilities, as distinct from the board’s operational staff, so they can govern effectively. The proposed amendments define that: school board members should maintain a focus on helping all of the region’s students succeed members are meant to act in the best interests of the school board and all its students superintendents are responsible for day-to-day management of school boards and implementing the decisions that elected boards make. “I think these changes will help promote good governance in school boards,” said Gin Yee, chair of the Halifax Regional School Board. “By making sure school board members know clearly what their roles are, this will help all of us focus on helping our students.” The province held information sessions with prospective school board candidates in the spring and is holding orientation sessions with newly elected boards this month to explain the type of decisions they will face, such as school reviews or approving a budget.
United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Rashida Manjoo, today began a two week investigative mission to the United Kingdom to study the manifestations of violence perpetrated in the family and in the community. “Violence against women continues to be one of the most pervasive human rights violations globally, affecting every country in the world,” Ms. Manjoo said.At the invitation of the UK Government, the independent expert aims to examine causes and consequences – with a view to assessing the phenomenon in the country. “During my mission I will meet with individuals and organizations involved in fighting all aspects related to violence against women,” the Special Rapporteur said.She intends to also look at violence perpetrated or condoned by State authorities, as well as violence encountered by immigrant women, asylum seekers and refugees.In a report prepared by UN Women last year looking at the experience of young women there were indications that in the UK one in three young women aged between 13 and 17 has experienced sexual abuse from a partner; while one in four has experienced physical abuse from a partner.Her itinerary includes conversations with Government officials, human rights commissions and representatives of civil society – including service providers – in London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff and Bristol. The human rights expert also plans to visit safe-houses to “obtain first-hand information from individual survivors of gender-based violence,” she said.The Special Rapporteur will share her preliminary findings on 15 April with the press in London. Her final findings and recommendations will be presented to the Human Rights Council.Ms. Manjoo, a part-time law professor in Cape Town, was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2009 and acts as an expert in her independent capacity.