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Colección: INTERAMER
Número: 35
Año: 1994
Autor: Kenny D. Anthony
Título: The Legal Framework of Education in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)

The Management of the Educational Enterprise


In general, the states under review have maintained the colonial tradition of a highly centralized department or ministry as the case may be, to manage the delivery of education services. Indeed, the more recent legislation has strengthened ministerial control. Limited provision has been made for the wishes of parents to be considered in the education of children so far “as is compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and training and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure.”299

As before, it is useful to review the extant provisions under two categories.

Management of Education in Dominica and Montserrat

The management structures and profiles as established by the Ordinances have already been discussed and amplified in the respective regulations.

Consistent with the approaches of the 1950s, the management of education was entrusted to a Department of Education comprising an education officer and such other officers as may be appointed. The Department was advised in Dominica by an Education Board300 and in Montserrat by an Education Committee.301 Different functions were assigned to these bodies but these are not material here. Provisions were made for the constitution and procedure of these bodies.

The Montserrat Ordinance allows for the creation of Educational districts and the appointment of Education Officers to them.302 These officers are empowered to assist in the maintaining and enforcement of school attendance.303 At the local level “government primary schools and post-primary schools shall be managed by the Head of Department in accordance with such policy as may be approved by the [Governor] in Council.”304 The management of government secondary schools and assisted schools is entrusted to their principals in accordance with such policy as may be approved by the [Governor] in Council.305 Subject to certain requirements governing, inter alia, their opening, the furnishing of returns, disqualifications of teachers, closure, and visits by authorized education officers, the management of private schools is left to their owners.306

The management framework of schools falling under the Dominican Ordinance is equally unsophisticated. At the local level, the management of schools is entrusted to managers and principals. Where the school is denominational or assisted, the relevant head or denomination is entrusted with the power to appoint, retire and dismiss all managers. However, the [Governor] in Council “may require the retirement of any manager.”307 No teacher or person who receives a pecuniary benefit from a school may be appointed manager of that school.308 Managers “shall deal with all matters relating to the organization [of schools within their jurisdiction].”309 Subject to the approval of the relevant education officer, the power to appoint, transfer, suspend and dismiss teachers in assisted schools falls to the managers.310 This did not apply to teachers in the educational establishment.311 Presumably, with the independence Constitution these teachers fall under the jurisdictional control of the Public Service Commission.

The provisions governing private schools are to the same effect in Montserrat.312

Notably absent from the Ordinances of Dominica and Montserrat are provisions delineating the specific powers and responsibilities of the Minister, the Chief Education Officer and school principals. In the case of Dominica, some of the responsibilities of the principals are stated in regulations. The Ordinances recognized the interests of specific interest groups in education, but the framework did not favor decentralization, consensus and democratic decision making. Not surprisingly, as education became more complex, the management structures created by the Ordinances were abandoned in favor of more enlightened structures and approaches.

Management of Education in Other States

In the other states, the Education Acts entrust the overall management and administration of the education system to the Minister. The Acts define the general purposes for which the powers conferred on the Minister may be used, the general responsibilities of the Minister, and the powers to be utilized for the performance of his/her statutory responsibilities. Saint Lucia and Grenada opted to marry the general purposes and responsibilities into one section. Notwithstanding the differences, the Saint Lucia legislation may be cited as a model since it reflects influences from the other three islands. Under section 3 of the Act,313 the Minister is required to ensure:
(a) the promotion of the education of the people of Saint Lucia, and the establishment of institutions devoted to that purpose by means of which they shall contribute towards the development of the human, physical, mental, moral, cultural, and spiritual resources of the community;
(b) the establishment of a system of education designed to provide adequately for the planning and development of an educational service related to the changing needs of the community;
(c) the effective execution of the education policy of the Government.
For the purpose of the performance of his responsibilities, the Minister may:
(a) make provision for the professional training of teachers for the entire system of public education, and prescribe standards which are applicable to the recruitment of teachers, their training and conditions of service;
(b) prescribe after consultation with the appropriate committees or boards of management or professional associations, curricula and textbooks in all public schools so as to ensure conformity with national goals of education;
(c) provide training in recreational, cultural, and creative activities including physical education, sport, music, and fine arts.
(d) require the attendance of children of compulsory school age at schools established and managed under this Act;
(e) establish or disestablish schools or classes including schools or classes for technical education;
(f) do all such other things as he may consider necessary from time to time for the carrying out of his responsibilities under this Act.314
Following the example of the Barbados Act, the Saint Vincent Education Act makes a threefold classification of the powers, responsibilities, and functions of the Minister. Section 3 confers general powers to the Minister to give expression to the philosophy of education declared in the Act. Section 4 defines the general responsibilities of the Minister. For the purposes of performing the functions under the Act, section 5 confers wide ranging powers to the Minister. It is difficult to appreciate the distinction between responsibilities and functions especially as these words are not terms of art. The functions which appear in section 5 could be easily assimilated under the responsibilities stated in section 4 without compromising the powers inherent in the respective provisions.

Some important differences may be noted. In Saint Christopher and Nevis, the Minister is charged, inter alia, with the responsibility of “undertaking or participating in the discharge of the responsibilities of the Government with respect to university education.”315 This is a useful provision which is not reproduced elsewhere. The Acts of Antigua,316 Saint Christopher and Nevis317 and Saint Vincent318 permit the Minister to “regulate the operation of private schools.” A power to the same effect also exists in the Grenada Act.319 No such power is stated in the Saint Lucia Act. The Acts of Saint Lucia320 and Saint Christopher and Nevis321 empower the Minister to establish and disestablish schools and classes. Suffice it to say that the potential consequences of this power are enormous. At the other extreme is Grenada. Under section 4(1)(a) the Minister “shall have power to establish schools in such places as he may think fit and to determine the classification of such schools.”322

To the above must be added the power of the Minister to make regulations, without consultation in the majority of cases, in specified subjects. The importance of the power to make regulations must be gauged not only by the range of permissible regulations but, crucially, by the sensitivity and importance of the individual subject area.

For the purpose of advising the Ministers as to the performance of any of the assigned duties and responsibilities, the Acts provide for the establishment of an Advisory Committee in Saint Lucia,323 an Advisory Board in Saint Vincent324 an Education Committee in Saint Christopher and Nevis,325 a National Advisory Council in Antigua,326 and an Education Advisory Council in Grenada.327 The Acts of Saint Christopher and Nevis328 and Grenada329 permit the Minister to appoint the members. In Saint Lucia330 and Antigua331 members of the committee are appointed by the Minister from specified persons and bodies. Saint Christopher and Nevis is the only jurisdiction to define the constitution and procedure of its committee in its Act rather than in regulations. Curiously too, section 8(b) of the Saint Christopher and Nevis Act332 permits the Committee “to undertake such executive duties as the Minister may from time to time impose, either indefinitely or for a stated period.” This provision permits the assignment of executive functions to persons who are not appointed to the executive arm of the state.

In addition to the Advisory Board, provision is made in the Education Act of Saint Vincent for the Minister to constitute “special committees as he considers necessary to advise him with respect to any special matter which may arise from time to time.”333 The fact that the Advisory Board “has considered or has power to consider the matter” in issue does not preclude the Minister from referring the matter to the special committee.334 This provision is novel to the OECS and it has its pedigree in the Education Act of Barbados.335

For purposes of management, a distinction must be maintained between public schools,  assisted schools and private schools.  Before the management structures at the school level are considered, it is useful to consider the duties of the chief professional in the Ministries of Education.

The Role of the Chief Education Officer

The functionary who is primarily responsible for the management of the educational system in most islands is the Chief Education Officer. In Grenada, the major functionary is the Minister, but convention permits the Minister to exercise his powers through public officers. In Saint Christopher and Nevis “public schools are controlled by the Chief Education Officer, subject to the directions of the Minister.”336 Further, the Chief Education Officer “shall have and exercise such powers, functions and duties as the Minister may confer.”337 Though the Grenada Regulations stipulate duties for Education Officers,338 the Chief Education Officer virtually performs his duties at the dictation of the Minister. This position may be contrasted with Antigua and Saint Lucia where the respective Chief Education Officers are given independent powers. For example, section 13 of the Education Act of Antigua states:

The Chief Education Officer shall, as respects all public schools, be responsible for the exercise and performance of such powers, duties and functions as are prescribed and in particular
(a) the supervision, inspection and revision of the program of education required by the curriculum;
(b) ensuring that school premises, property and stock are protected against improper use;
(c) the submission of reports on matters relating to the discipline of teachers;
(d) the conduct and supervision of courses of induction and training for untrained teachers as well as courses for other teachers;
(e) the observance of the provisions of this Act and any regulations made thereunder pertaining to the conduct of schools;
(f) arranging for the approval of such leave to teachers as may be granted them in accordance with any regulations made under this Act;
(g) considering and assessing the confidential reports of teachers;
(h) furnishing such returns as may be prescribed or required at any time by the Minister;
(i) dealing with all other matters of organization, management and administration as may be referred to him by the Minister;
(j) cooperating with appropriate authorities in the exercise of authorized schemes.339
A similar approach is evident in the Education Act of Saint Vincent. The Act confirms the position of the Chief Education Officer as the chief professional activist of the Ministry of Education. Crucially, the Chief Education Officer is authorized to “delegate authority to professional staff of the Ministry for administering various aspects of the system of public education.”340 This provision is unique to Saint Vincent and strengthens the professional control of the Chief Education Officer over the entire system of education. Additionally, the Act permits the Minister to delegate any of his responsibilities pertaining to the management of primary and secondary schools under the Act to the Chief Education Officer.341

At the local level, the Chief Education Officer is assisted by principals. The provisions of the Act of Saint Christopher and Nevis are typical. Subject to the Education Act and the regulations made under the Act’s authority, principals of schools “shall be responsible for the day to day management of their schools including,
(a) the supervision of the physical safety of pupils;
(b) the suitable application of the syllabus inconformity with the needs of the pupils of the school, and the administration of the school’s program;
(c) allocation and supervision of the duties and responsibilities of members of their staff;
(d) the discipline of the school;
(e) teaching;
(f) the proper use of school equipment and stock;
(g) the keeping of proper records;
(h) the furnishing of such returns as may be prescribed or required at any time by the Minister;
(i) ensuring the observance in their respective schools of the provisions of this Act and any regulations made thereunder;
(j) co-operating with parents and with approved authorities in the execution of authorized schemes.”342
No provision is made in the Act of Saint Vincent for the duties of principals. Presumably, these are left to be prescribed by regulations.

Of the four islands, (Grenada excepted) the Education Act of Saint Christopher and Nevis is the only one to require the Chief Education Officer to cooperate “with parents and with approved authorities in the execution of authorized schemes.”343 The failure to accord parents some influence in the decision-making processes of Education continues to be a glaring omission in the legislation throughout the sub-region.

Grenada’s approach is puzzling. The responsibilities and duties of principals are outlined under various subjects in the regulations. There is, therefore, no compact statement to govern these matters. However, Regulations 193 and 194 outline specific responsibilities and duties for principals of “technical-vocational institutes.”344 No provision is made for the duties and responsibilities of other principals in the school system.

Save for the regulations of Grenada,345 the statutory enactments of the other states do not specify the duties of teachers. It is debateable whether these duties should be assumed rather than prescribed. In general, the prevailing statutes impose other duties on principals. For example, principals are required to follow prescribed procedures when suspending and expelling students, to assist in the enforcement of compulsory education, maintenance of registers and records, and generally monitoring the health of pupils.