Wed | Dec 12, 2018

Gleaner Editors' Forum | National Council on Education will not be revamped, Reid tells JTA

Published:Tuesday | September 18, 2018 | 12:00 AMArthur Hall/Associate Editor
Byron Farquharson, JTA secretary general.

Education minister Ruel Reid is seeking to allay the fears of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) that the Government is set to change the operations of the well-respected National Council on Education.

Since 1993, the National Council on Education has operated as a statutory body reporting to the ministry of education.

It provides a non-partisan, national approach to education and addresses a wide range of issues impacting the process while attempting to ensure continuity in educational policy development, despite changes in Government, at the same time providing advice to the minister.

The council is also mandated to select and train members of school boards and to ensure that political considerations are not used to appoint persons to serve on these boards.

The JTA said that since the three-year life of the previous leadership of the body expired, there has been no attempt by the education minister to appoint a new body amid whispers of planned wide scale changes to its operations.

"We have information that the approach to the National Council on Education is about to change. In fact, the council has been dissolved and right now we are not sure what is happening," Byron Farquharson, secretary general of the JTA, told a Gleaner Editors' Forum last Thursday.

"The Jamaica Teachers' Association is expressing deep concern that it would be a retrograde step if we go back to where we are coming from. That is where politicians are free to name who they want to school boards and almost give instructions to educational institutions. We feel that the National Council on Education was set up as an impartial body to represent education with persons nominated by sector groups like the JTA and appointed by the governor general."

 

Non-partisan approach

 

But Reid told The Gleaner that he has agreed on the persons proposed to sit on the council and has submitted the names to the governor general for appointment.

According to the minister, there is no plan to change the non-partisan approach of the council or reduce its mandate.

He said the only change planned is to move the back office operations of the council, such as accounts and human resources, to the central ministry as part of a cost-cutting exercise.

arthur.hall@gleanerjm.com