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Education (Amdt.) (No. 2) Bill

Tuesday, May 02, 2000

of academic attainment, disproportionate learning disabilities; inefficiencies and ineffectiveness of teaching methods used; inappropriate curriculum; teacher and student indiscipline; poor motivation, morale, commitment loyalty. These problems need to be urgently addressed.

Mr. President, I am looking at the creation of local school boards to see whether they are likely to make a contribution towards alleviating this condition that exists in more than 50 per cent of our schools.

The second large problem that we have to see the local boards in relation to— and it is a massive problem—is weaknesses in the structure, the management, the operations and the staffing of the Ministry of Education. The Ministry itself is aware of these and I seek your permission to quote from the resume´ of a note that went to Cabinet—E 58229, January 04, 1999, paragraph 8.

“Among the most urgent problems of the Ministry are those of an inadequate and congested implementation capability caused by over- centralization, overburdened heads of division, lack of high level support, both structurally and by virtue of unfilled vacancies. These problems lead to weak and sluggish co-ordination, and to a host of related problems including poor supervision.”

That is the ministry’s own assessment of weaknesses in structure, management, operations and staffing. When I look at the proposals for the establishment of local school boards, I have to ask: “How do the boards help to resolve these two large questions? The lack of success, and the underdeveloped nature of many of our schools, and the weaknesses in the Ministry of Education.” We have a problem.

We want to reform; we want to improve the quality of education but the machine that is supposed to do that is also in need of reformation. I do not believe that we have to do one at a time; we have to work on all fronts. But I am saying that that is a very difficult dilemma in which we find ourselves. If we are going to waste our time here, talking about local schools boards, I want to be sure that when we talk about local boards we are concerned about those two major problems I have already stated.

For some time now, people have been arguing that the solution to these problems lies in the restructuring and decentralization of the Ministry of Education. When the Heads of Divisions do their strategic reviews that is the first thing they come up with: we need to restructure and we need to decentralize. I have a kind of half-jokey attitude to these fellows because the ones who are not

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