Install education minister – PNP - Party urges Gov’t six weeks before school reopens
Member of Parliament for Manchester Southern Michael Stewart has described the present state of the education system in Jamaica as a runaway ship and is calling on the Government to have a minister installed immediately, six weeks before the start of the new school year.
Stewart, also an administrator, made the call yesterday during a press briefing held at the People’s National Party’s (PNP) headquarters in St Andrew.
“We have seen where in recent times, the minister of education was removed ... . With all due respect to the minister who is giving oversight, the Honourable Karl Samuda, he doesn’t have his hands on the throttle,” he said.
Stewart told journalists that questions were still hanging in the balance.
“We have tabled a few questions in Parliament, Ronnie (Ronald Thwaites) and myself, and two weeks ago, when we asked for the questions to be answered, the minister said that the PM (prime minister), who has a substantive post, was not here, he had to be going to CARICOM and is not able to answer these questions. Last week, again, the PM was absent from Parliament,” Stewart said.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who had appointed Karl Samuda minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, assigned him in March to oversee the ministry after the dismissal of former Education Minister Ruel Reid.
However, Stewart said that the chaos at the ministry has negatively impacted the morale of students, teachers, and other stakeholders.
“What we are seeing in our respective schools is that the morale of our students, teachers, and other stakeholders in the education system has been damaged totally. The education system is like a runaway ship, no one to give clear-cut guidance as to the way forward, and we ask that the prime minister appoint a full-time minister of education with six weeks to go. The school system is indeed chaotic, and we need some guidance as it relates to what needs to be done,” he said.
Lennon Richards, president of the National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica, yesterday told The Gleaner that his team was quietly watching things unfold at the education ministry.
“At this time, we will not comment on it. We are just watching what is happening,” Richards said.