Education (Amdt.) (No. 2) Bill
Tuesday, May 02, 2000
[SEN. PROF. RAMCHAND]
implementing the system are always meeting and having strategic reviews, and all of their strategic reviews only serve to consolidate the nonsense they are already doing. But there are these strategic reviews periodically, and they all say, “restructure and decentralize.”
In 1997, there was a Coopers and Lybrand Report on restructuring and decentralization which, among other things, makes the points I was making about the schools and the logjam, and the in efficiency in the ministries. The Government has taken this question very seriously and they have paid money for Coopers and Lybrand’s Report. A number of the consultancies under the Secondary Education Modernization Programme have commented on the need to restructure, and decentralize.
Many other committees, like the Pantin Task Force on textbooks, have made comments in passing, on the lack of co-ordination of the ministry. I am on manners—I do not say anything about textbooks. Before all these reports had been done; before all this money was spent, we had this Education Policy Paper, 1999—2003 which says everything that all of these paid reports have said. They say them better; they say them with more depth; they say them with more knowledge; they say them with more professionalism, and I do not understand why the Government does not take the whole of this White Paper and implement it. All the suggestions for the creation of School Boards, whether it should be school-based management or district-based management. All the suggestions for a proper decentralizaton exist in this paper.
However, Mr. President, there is one difference between this and many of the other reports; it is that this White Paper makes a distinction between decentralization and devolution. The institution that I used to work for, would tell us year after year that they are decentralizing, they are democratizing, they are restructuring and the effect of every decentralization and every restructuring has been to concentrate power in the university in the hands of a smaller and smaller group. I feel that part of the problem with our plans for restructuring and decentralizing the Ministry of Education is that we do not want to bite the bullet and go in for devolution.
That, to me, is one of the reasons why the present proposals for local school boards are going to be quite ineffectual, because these local school boards have no real power; they can do nothing. They will be glorified fund-raisers and they will be glorified telephonists to phone up WASA and say that the school does not have