Education (Amdt.) (No. 2) Bill
Tuesday, May 02, 2000
[SEN. PROF. SPENCE)
environs of Port of Spain; the catchment area is, in fact, country wide and one wonders whether a system that is designed especially for community participation of persons drawn from the immediate community is appropriate for a school such as QRC.
Now, I notice that the amendment to the Act retains the original wording in that, “The Minister may, wherever he considers it expedient, constitute”. In the original Act it says, “committees of management”, whereas in this one it would say—[Interruption] Yes, I think I am wrong there. I do not think that it does give him any discretion because 23 is deleted completely and replaced by a new 23. So I would put my point differently. I would say that it is a pity that in the amendment the original wording was not retained in the sense that the Minister would have discretion as to whether a school board would be appointed or not. It seems to me that in the amendment it is now mandatory that a school board be appointed.
As I said, I do not think it is appropriate for some schools—I refer especially to Queen’s Royal College—to have a community-based board of management as this amendment envisages. So it would have been better if the Minister had the discretion to appoint or not to appoint. Just to expand a bit on the situation at Queen’s Royal College, as with many denominational schools, there is a strong past pupils’ association and this association has been doing many of the things that I would assume a school board, under the new arrangements, would do. Indeed, there is at Queen’s Royal College a committee, which is called the School Planning and Management Team, which does a number of things which these new school boards would do.
So what does one do in that sort of circumstance? Does one throw out the existing arrangements which seem to be working very well? Because one has a group of committed past pupils, committed to the future of the school and committed to the maintenance of the school. Indeed, what is rather depressing is that one would expect that a group of persons like that would be collecting funds, for example, for additional things for the school. In fact, a large proportion of the funds collected by the old boys’ association goes towards routine maintenance of the school because the school is underfunded in its routine maintenance grant from the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. So if one really wants to help the schools I think perhaps one should look at the maintenance in general rather than adding on this hierarchy. So I have a difficulty with the concept, if it is being applied to all government schools, because I do not think it is appropriate in some instances.