New education bill to tackle private education, teachers council

Stabroek News
August 6, 2004

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A new education bill could address issues such as the ministry's role in the delivery of education, private schools, school boards, a teachers' council and new school hours.

Education Minister Dr Henry Jeffrey said that these were issues that needed to be brought within the legal framework, hence the moves to prepare a draft education bill 2004, which he expected would be passed into law in the next two years.

In brief remarks at the inaugural meeting of the task force put together to review the draft Education Bill and Regulations of 1998, Jeffrey told the media in the boardroom of the Ministry of Education yesterday that the task force would lead the discourse with members of the public on the decades-old Education Act.

He feels that a new Education Act should be `holding' legislation to cater for changing conditions in the education system. It is expected that the bill would be passed into law within the next two years.

Jeffrey said the ministry's role as a policy-making and monitoring body and not as the implementer should be put within legal parameters.

He said the ministry was not certain it had the legal clout to deal with the mushrooming of private schools and how it should intervene and this also needed to be addressed.

Jeffrey said that if the education system is to be successful in planning and implementation, active and stronger school boards should be seriously considered. At present, the boards in a number of schools and tertiary institutions are following the guidelines set out in the President's College School Board Act.

With regard to a teachers' council, the minister said such a body could function as the medical council does in registering its members and deregistering them if they were delinquent. Such a council, he said could also facilitate continuing education for teachers.

Jeffrey also said that the length of time spent in school needed to be reconfigured and this was especially necessary for children at the nursery, primary and secondary levels.

Businessman, David Yhann Jnr has been appointed to head the task force to review the draft act on which substantial work had been done prior to 1998 with the introduction of the Primary Education Improvement Pro-ject (PEIP) during the term of former education minister Dr Dale Bisnauth.

The review of the act is being undertaken within the context of the Basic Education Access and Management Systems (BEAMS) project, which is funded by the Inter-American Development Bank. BEAMS is considered a continuation of the PEIP.

Other members of the Task Group are Chief Education Officer Ed Caesar; Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica) Chairman, Alan Munroe; Member of the Teaching Service Commission (TSC), Mohamed Khan with the alternate representative being TSC Secretary, Trevor Thomas; Deputy Registrar of the University of Guyana, Vincent Alexander; Chief Training Officer in the Public Service Ministry, Artie Harricharran with alternate representative being Manager for scholarships, PSM, Elise Benfield; GTU past President, Lance Baptiste; Adviser to the Ministry of Education, Hector Patterson; and Administrative Officer in the Ministry of Education Orin Perry.

Also to attend the meetings of the task force are International Legal Specialist in Education, E Bruce-Lyle and National Specialist in Organisational Development, Janice Arjoon.

Arjoon will play an active part in the deliberations of the group, conduct consultations, write reports and function as a secretary to the task group.

The Task Force will function out of the Georgetown Education Department at 68 Brickdam.

According to the draft terms of reference, the task force will also be expected to identify issues for consideration in the revision of the Education Act based on a review of the governance, structure and institutional capacity of the education sector; and to consider views expressed by all stakeholders on matters connected with the delivery of education services and the performance of the education sector.

The task force will also be expected to prepare proposals for the construction of a revised education bill on the basis of available information about recent educational policy and developments at both the national and global levels; and to prepare a report and draft education bill for submission through the Minister of Education to the National Assembly for its passage.

Meanwhile, the ministry is also resuscitating the National Advisory Commission on Education in keeping with provisions of the current Education Act. This commission will review the draft education bill 2004; consult widely on its contents before submission to the minister for presentation to parliament; and make recommendations on education policy in line with the proposals. (Miranda La Rose)