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Education (Amdt.) (No. 2) Bill

Tuesday, May 02, 2000

I said before, I decided not to go outside of this but this is all part of the reform process, something with which I did not agree and the way in which it is undertaken in Trinidad and Tobago. There are other things that we can do and I hope that the hon. Minister would take into consideration some of the comments which I have made in good faith as someone who is very much interested in education in Trinidad and Tobago.

Thank you.

Sen. Prof. Kenneth Ramchand: Mr. President, I begin by saying that I am in principle in favour of the establishment of local school boards, but I have to add, I do not believe that the present proposals would create local school boards that can take full advantage of the partnership of parents, teachers, ministry officials and the community that local school boards in other places do and are intended to do.

I would also like to add that when I look at the regulations concerning local school boards, I cannot see anywhere or anyhow that they would have the effect of lightening the work of ministry officials. I do not see any way in which they would be able to contribute in an original or an inventive way to improving the quality of education. I see that they would overlap a great deal with, and in some instances, usurp the activities of PTAs, and most importantly, I feel that creation of these local school boards in the form proposed would pre-empt the development of the Principal-PTA relationship which exists in the assisted schools and which I believe is the main reason for the success of the assisted schools as against the Government schools. These relationships between the PTAs and the Principals operate outside of the bureaucracy. They do things quickly, effectively, and they mobilize people. They do not have to wait for a decision from Headquarters.

Mr. President, I feel the most harmful, unintended effect of local school boards is that they might prevent the creation of this kind of voluntary relationship between PTAs and Principals which has been so instrumental in the success of the assisted schools.

I intend to take my full speaking time and bearing in mind deliberate non- listening, abbreviated concentration spans, and bearing in mind the boringness of serious subjects, I state early what I am going to be saying. I want to give my main points, my procedure.

First of all, I want to express uncertainty about the possible effects of the Local School Boards so one part of my argument would be that. Then, I want to look at Local School Boards in the context of the restructuring and decentralization of the Ministry of Education and the education system. Then I

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