Study recommends new role for Teaching Service Commission

Stabroek News
January 16, 2000

A foreign consortium's study on the organisational capacity of the Education Ministry has recommended a change in the role of the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) in order to eliminate the major obstacle to human resource management in the sector.

The US-based Consortium for International Development (CID) stated in its report that the TSC was a political organisation and it was not staffed by education professionals. It recommended that the TSC be an appellate body rather than a human resource organisation.

The study also examined personnel matters at CPCE and NCERD, and has suggested that a salary survey be conducted to determine market prices for public service and teaching service jobs in addition to competitive salary ranges for public service employees.

Fifteen recommendations were made in the report of the study, which was financed at a cost of US$400,000 under the Primary Education Improvement Project (PEIP). The study, carried out during August to November last year, was completed one month ahead of schedule.

CID said it had found that the TSC's role overlapped those of the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Public Service Management (PSM) ministry. This overlapping was a major source of inefficiency and was frustrating for the staff of the National Centre for Education Resource Development (NCERD) and the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE).

The consortium said that there were significant differences among senior officials in their ability "to work the system" to get needed vacancies filled and programmes implemented. It said that the current arrangement was neither the quickest nor the most effective way to get things done. Findings indicated major difficulties associated with filling vacancies, disciplining and terminating employment, obtaining approval for leave and training.

In the course of further investigations, the CID said that it was impossible to specifically attribute the major cause of delays to a single agency. It was noted that there was too much bureaucracy in appointments. Some faulted the ministry, while others attributed the difficulty to the red tape and confusion associated with the various regulations of the PSC and the PSM.

The experts found that CPCE had the organisational capacity to be a strong provider of teacher education in Guyana but the retention of staff was its major problem. Change, they said, was vital in order to enable CPCE to recruit and retain qualified instructors. The constant turnover of instructors, the resulting drain on morale of existing instructors and the inadequacy of facilities at the regional centres must be remedied or their success will be diminished.

And while the study submitted that NCERD "needs rethinking" by the Education Ministry, the first set of recommendations dealing with personnel issues at CPCE and NCERD suggested the establishment of a Compensation Unit within the human resources office with responsibility for compensation, conditions of service and employee records.

It also urged a change in the criteria for salary range designation within the teacher salary structure to educational and training factors and the development of a separate salary structure for administrators.

The consortium has advised that permanent and department heads be appointed at both NCERD and CPCE and that the process should be streamlined for filling vacancies. In addition, it is urging that a task force be convened for the purpose of identifying how to streamline the hiring process and to clarify the appointment process and approval of leave. A skilled outside facilitator, the CID said must be hired to organise and advise in this reform.

The CID has suggested that recommendations must include elimination of duplication of approval authority and delegation of more authority to the hiring unit.

Based on research of prior consultancies and current interviews, CID said that it was clear that NCERD was regarded as a unit of the ministry, just like CPCE. However, during a feedback meeting with the ministry, there was disagreement about NCERD's status and this situation, the report said, needed to be clarified.

The CID team feels that NCERD should be physically in a single location for better resource utilisation, communication and planning. This would have a positive psychological impact in helping staff to begin identifying themselves as an integrated organisation.

For NCERD to be a centre of excellence for continuing professional training of teachers, the report said, it needed priority attention from the ministry and a clear mandate.

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