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Education (Amdt.) (No. 2) Bill

Tuesday, May 02, 2000


interpret educational policy. There is always a leeway within policy for variance of the interpretation and local school boards interpret policy according to the needs of the particular regions, parents and children where they are operating.

I think—it is one of my obsessions—that I really do want to see, especially primary schools that are rooted in community and primary schools that make use of parents, teachers and the children themselves in a proactive way, to re-create either a new kind of village or community, for this would affect not only the kind of people we shape, but the kind of society that we are producing.

Mr. President, I want to remind you that the idea for local school boards, the first reference to the need for local school boards was in 1869 in the Keanan Report on Education in Trinidad. Keanan was an inspector of schools in Ireland. He was invited by the Secretary of State for the colonies to enquire into, and report on, education in the colony.

3.10 p.m.

Among his statements concerning primary education is that the plan then in force of exclusive management on the part of the state should be abolished and that, in future, all schools should be placed under the care of responsible persons having local relation to, or connection with, the places in which the schools were situated. I just want to repeat that phrase,

“responsible persons having local relation to, or connection with, the places in which the schools were situated”.

This Irishman came here and he had never heard of Trinidad and Tobago before. Incidentally, Keanan was the first person who proposed the establishment of a University of the West Indies; it is there in the Keanan report. He did not have any political intentions; he was an educationist. He just felt that this place deserved a university and that the campus should be established in one of the islands and that campus should have relationship with the other islands.

Mr. President, one of the contentious issues in the whole educational system has to do with the fact that we have a dual system of church and state. I have given the statistics; I will give them over for the primary schools. Of a total of 477 primary schools, 136 are government schools. So anybody who is trying to reform the education system has to take account of the fact that denominations run the majority of the schools. They have a certain power in the system.

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