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Education (Amdt.) (No. 2) Bill

Tuesday, May 02, 2000


Let me congratulate Sen. Valere on her maiden speech. [Desk thumping] It is sad that I have to start by disagreeing with her, in saying that I do not agree that all the time we could take professional people in the discipline, to put them on the boards. It is like taking a lawyer, Senior Counsel to be a juror. Sometimes they tend to overtake the management of the school, because of their superior experience and knowledge, so we have to know how to mix it. There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to that.

I am a bit skeptical about us trying to set up school boards for every government primary and secondary school in the country. We have 13 government primary schools in Tobago—I sat here and listed them from memory—and three secondary schools.

4.40 p.m.

I cannot, for the life of me, see 13 primary school boards for government schools operating in Tobago. Probably we can start with the three secondary schools and use the foundation of their PTAs to see whether some of the powers that we want to give to the school boards, we could incorporate that into what the PTAs do. They do not try to take over the management of the schools. They do not try to run the schools, they assist in many of the things we are doing here, or saying what we want to do here. Probably, I think, we could do this as a pilot project and see whether we could give these PTAs some sort of recognition in the management of the physical plant, et cetera, of the school.

Mr. President, I could tell you that in Tobago the government schools are better than the denominational schools. This is a fact. In many instances, the teachers in the government schools are more qualified and more experienced than the teachers in the denominational schools: both primary and secondary. So they have sort of a better start in the government schools. But we have to think of some of the things we heard this afternoon.

If you take the secondary ones first, with respect to the children from the Common Entrance Examination, there is a cut-off point for the denominational schools: most of them that are the prestige schools. There is a cut-off point in the marks. One must attain a certain score before one can get into one of those denominational schools. Therefore, we have begun to cream off the children who have scored very highly there, at the very beginning. What we have after that, would be the principal having the 20 per cent, again, where those children who

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