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Education (Amdt.) (No. 2) Bill

Tuesday, May 02, 2000

I am suggesting that if you want to go this way, that is how I think you should go and then you could tell me that your boards are now the same as the denominational boards. Within a district—for example, I am in Victoria—the schools that are there have small boards and there is also a regional board there. So there are eight of those and out of those eight, form one national board for the government schools, that Anglican or Roman Catholic Board, then you can put a system in place that is akin to the denominational boards. As it stands now the system that is being put in place is not akin to the denominational boards. When it comes to four boards, just rearrange the whole system so you will have three regional boards in Trinidad and the one in Tobago will make four and out of that form a national board for the government schools, then there is no discrimination. There will be a national board for the government schools, one for the Anglican.

At the moment there is a serious flaw in the whole thing. If you are talking about decentralization, what are you doing with all the boards relating to the permanent secretary? There is nothing like decentralization there, so we are getting things mixed and we have to prepare for it down the line. That is why I said if you look at it as a whole, we would not be doing these small things as we go along—piecemeal things. It is the same thing they tried to do with the Regional Health Authorities. It was said that all these hospitals were related to the Ministry of Health and we were trying to see if we could do this regional health- to-health, similarly with the schools if you want to do something, but to put everybody going to this is a waste of time. No permanent secretary would want to go to the Ministry of Education again or if he or she goes, that person will only be looking at paper after paper every year and not being able to respond to it.

Mr. President, I looked at it critically, but I am one of those persons very interested in education and what happens in education and even though I said at the beginning that this is one of areas for reform, I am repeating that there are things we need to do before. You cannot look at public schools from two perspectives; denominational in one way and government in another. You have to look at all of them. If you had allowed all the schools to have the same boards and grouped them according to regions, the functions of all of them would be the same in terms of the physical maintenance of the plant and so forth. So you would have all the schools enjoying that, grouping them according to regions, but the denominational schools would still have their boards, and there is a national board for all the government schools.

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