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Collection: INTERAMER
Number: 35
Year: 1994
Author: Kenny D. Anthony
Title: The Legal Framework of Education in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)

Overview of Extant Statutes

Two islands, Dominica and Montserrat, continue to use legislation enacted in the 1950s. At the time of enactment, the statutes responded to an emerging but relatively unsophisticated system of education. The legislation created Departments of Education to manage the system,21 established a Board in Dominica, and a committee in Montserrat to advise the authorities,22 introduced varying schemes for compulsory education,23 made provision for grants from the Consolidated Fund for assisted schools,24 and sought to exercise a measure of control over the establishment of private schools and the quality of education dispensed in such schools.25

In some ways, the Dominica legislation was more definitive. It created two distinct classes of schools, Public Elementary Schools and Secondary Schools.26 Schools in both categories may be either Government or Assisted.27 A class of Private Secondary Schools was also recognized.28 An Assisted School was simply defined as “a school to which a grant is made from public funds.” The above division was implicit rather than explicit in Montserrat.29 Both items of legislation left several important matters to be defined by regulations to be made by the “Governor in Council,”30 a term now given the meaning of the Governor (as in Montserrat) or President (as in Dominica) acting on the advice of Cabinet.

In Dominica a separate Ordinance dealt with the award of the “island scholarship.”31 Regulations made pursuant to that Ordinance established the value of the scholarship and the method of application, the required qualifications for the award, the relevant examination to determine the scholarship, the criteria for the award of the scholarship, choice of course of study and the selection of the institution of study, attendance at the institution selected by the scholar, forfeiture of the scholarship, and manner of payment of funds to the scholar.32 A similar but not identical approach was adopted in Montserrat.33

Since the enactment of the above legislation, radical changes have been effected in the education systems. For example, Teachers’ Colleges have been established; governments have assumed greater ministerial control over the educational enterprise; new classes of secondary schools have been established; the appointment, discipline and removal of teachers have been assigned to independent service commissions; Parent Teacher Associations have been introduced and given official recognition; teachers’ organizations have been more assertive about their roles and rights in the education system; and, a Caribbean fashioned system of examinations for secondary schools has replaced external examinations. To a very large extent, the enactments of Montserrat and Dominica have outlived their usefulness.