Education (Amdt.) (No. 2) Bill
Tuesday, May 02, 2000
our pieces together, because all of us in this country are interested in the whole business of education and we would like to see whatever you are doing succeed. Therefore, my comments this afternoon would be out of that mode, looking at the whole process of this whole thing called school boards.
Mr. President, this term “school boards” is a widely accepted term; fortunately or unfortunately it connotes different meanings in different countries. A school board arrangement in Trinidad and Tobago is different from what it is in England or America. Even board in Trinidad and Tobago will connote different things; different structures and purposes. The closest to it is the word “board”; that sound of the word, therefore, we have to look at it very carefully in this context.
Before I go into what is here, I would want to make my own comments at this time. Not that I am against the establishment of school boards on the whole, but at a time like this, even though this is a part of the reform process, I ask myself: “Do we really need to go into the whole establishment of school boards now? Are there any other priorities that we should have taken on board before we got here? I just want to look very carefully at what is happening around us.
I was pleased to get this morning this little handout marked Cost Implications for Local School Boards, because one of the things that came to my mind is that there is a cost to this thing. I am asking, in terms of priorities at this time in the year 2000, whether this could not have been deferred to take care of some other areas of the education system that we needed to tighten up, which would also assist with this?
For example, this is going to cost money. I read where there are going to be: secretarial services—a secretary is going to be paid to work with the local school board; conference rooms, photocopying machines and all those amenities. As someone who lived in the primary and secondary school and even at the Teachers’ Training College and someone who knew what people were asking, I want to look back a bit. How long ago have principals in the schools been asking for secretarial or clerical services? If today we have found some money, where is the priority? What is the first group that we would want to give? Would we not wish to give those principals who have to do all this work by hand, let us say, who do not have secretarial services, the primary schools which do not have photocopying machines and all these services?