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Education (Amdt.) (No. 2) Bill

Tuesday, May 02, 2000

I go back to the policy that the stakeholders in the community must be involved. Who are the stakeholders? They are the teachers in a specific school and the principal there. So they are on a board. Secondly, the student association of that school, not of a cluster of schools, but that particular school. So when that student representative sits on the school board, he is representing that school committee—not the one next door, or the one down the road, or the one across the chain link fence, but this school. My concern is my school. If I am a parent representative of the PTA, what is my concern? This school, my child, my school. That is the policy behind the local school board so that the major stakeholders are represented on the board. That was the policy.

You mentioned what was happening in other countries with other school boards and it goes even further. I said it before when I was piloting the Bill. In Jamaica, for example, the local school board hires and fires teachers. It goes much further than what we have done here. We are going this step and I am saying maybe there is more we need to do, maybe there is some we need to pull back. We will look at some of the suggestions, but I think the policy is still, in my respectful view, to have the key stakeholders.

I like Sen. Dr. Mc Kenzie’s point. We cannot entrench within the provision of this legislation, in a very rigid manner, who is to sit on the board in terms of competence. Because it would vary again from school to school, community to community and district to district, and similarly, the numbers will vary. If it is a small primary school, then you go at smaller numbers. If you are looking at 1,000 children in a secondary school, we go to the larger numbers, a maximum of 10. It has to be flexible.

Mr. President, there are many concerns being raised and we will look at them. I have spoken with the Leader of Government Business and we will return on another occasion to answer those specific queries, but I say that this is not the beginning and the end. I tried very carefully when I was piloting the Bill to make that point. This is not a panacea for all the problems in the education system, and the problems are numerous. You know them, you have said them, and we all know them. This is one thrust and one limb, there are several other limbs on which this Government is going forward and we can talk about those.

Sen. Yuille-Williams mentioned about doing things piecemeal and not being holistic. If you wish, I can give you a very holistic—and I will tell you about it— approach we are taking.

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