Letter of the Day | Don't give JTA upper hand, Minister!
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Minister of Education, Youth and Information Ruel Reid is arguably the most engaged minister of government, presiding as he does over three substantial portfolios despite being a novice in the Cabinet.
Minister Reid has come out swinging at his 'subjects' more often than he has held their hands as partners for prosperity. He seems to have a preference for heat over cool breeze. The education portfolio is clearly where the big fires easily occur from his sparks. Apparently, he has found a lot of trash to be slashed and burned in education.
A little over a decade ago, he was president of the Jamaica Teachers' Associa-tion (JTA). In this role, he was the teachers' defender against all claims and charges against them. Thereafter, after 10 years in a regular teaching job at one traditional high school, he spent 10 years as principal of another, which he left on secondment to become minister.
Different point of view
Now it seems that seeing his former colleagues from another angle, Minister Reid feels that he was upholding slackness when he defended them in another capacity. Now that he sees the light, he is standing up for right. He sees among them wide-scale lack of accountability, underperformance, ineffective leadership, and inefficiency. They are holding the system to ransom.
On the heels of a blazing row with the leaders of some schools over charging unapproved school fees and charges outlined by his chief education officer of weak management of the textbook rental programme by some of the same schools and others, Minister Reid recently declared that district school boards could soon be because of poor governance by local school boards. This is the American model, which the 'monkey state' that Jamaica has become, by nature, will no doubt ensure it is implemented more expertly than it is there.
Ironically, Minister Reid says that he will be working with the JTA to reform school boards. How can this be? If his advisers put him up to this, they should be rapped for it. The JTA represents a governed demography, not the governing authority of an educational institution.
While they are entitled to participate in governance, rightly, by the Education Code of Regulations of 1980, which requires urgent revision, they cannot determine the framework of governance to which they will be subject.
This may be Minister Reid's mea culpa or conciliation. However, it is the wrong road to travel on. It will not remedy the breach identified.
HYLTON W. DENNIS
Mona, Kingston 7