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Education (Amdt.) (No. 2) Bill

Tuesday, May 02, 2000

[SEN. PROF. RAMCHAND]

Well, I have read these regulations, Mr. President, and I cannot see that and, therefore, when the Minister spoke she assured them there is no such provision or possibility. “These school boards are toothless. They will not seek to direct and control the operation of teachers and the school administration”. TTUTA argued that the school boards should not have the authority to interfere with the autonomy of supervisors, principals, and teachers, as agents of the Ministry of Education in curriculum or other pedagogical matters. The Minister agreed: “No, no, they will not have the power to interfere.”

3.00 p.m.

We remain quite stratified as we are, she seemed to be saying. We have to deal with the Public Service Commission; we have to deal with the Teaching Service Commission; we have to deal with the Ministry of Finance; we have to deal with our own uncoordinated supervisors. Do you think that we are going to bring in a board to interfere with all of that? We are tangled up already.” The Minister assured Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association that the local school boards would not interfere with the web of supervisors, principals and teachers.

The Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association complained that local school boards should in no way interfere with or usurp the powers of the Teaching Service Commission. If I were the Minister of Education, I would want to interfere with the powers—

Mrs. Persad-Bissessar: We can, constitutionally.

Sen. Prof. K. Ramchand: I know. So, to continue, the Minister confirmed to the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association that “the boards cannot and will not interfere with teachers or educational matters.” The Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association ended its letter by praying that these boards should be purely advisory in nature with respect to recommendations to the principal and the Minister, and the Minister said the prayer was already granted.

What I am saying, in a backhanded way—it is not a nice thing—is that the Minister and the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association agree that the local school boards should have little or no power. I am complaining that I need local school boards that have a lot more power and influence than that.

Mr. President, consider the Regulations. The Minister makes it clear that the school boards would have a function in the maintenance of school plant; that they will assist when there are crises over water and electricity et cetera; they will do

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