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Thwaites cautions Reid on NCE move

Published:Thursday | March 7, 2019 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer

Opposition Spokesman on Education Ronald Thwaites has labelled the move to subsume the National Council on Education (NCE) under the Ministry of Education as dangerous, saying that it will effectively strip the council of its independence.

On Tuesday, Thwaites cautioned Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid as he fielded questions from Opposition members of Parliament’s Standing Finance Committee about the budgetary allocation for the NCE.

Reid sought to assure the members that only the back-office operations had been absorbed into the ministry and that the body’s independence remained intact.

The minister also noted that the move was in keeping with the rationalisation thrust, which is aimed at reducing the number of public bodies through mergers, but Thwaites was unmoved.

The NCE was born out of the need to have a non-partisan, national, and strategically placed organisation that would “address a wide range of issues impacting on the education process.

“They can put a break on autocratic ministerial activity. Now, bringing them within the Ministry of Education takes away their independence and places them under the supervision of the officials of the ministry. This can’t be healthy. It can’t be healthy for you,” he charged.

“It is not good for a minister to, in any way, be bereft of the source of independent advice. Please, I speak in your own interest,” Thwaites further cautioned.