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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)

Tertiary Education

If tertiary education follows post-secondary education, then all the legislation in force recognizes some aspect of education which falls within that definition. Tertiary education is a new experience for the sub-region.

The Acts of Antigua, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia all make provision for vocational or technical schools, teachers’ colleges or institutions and “any other schools or departments of schools for the education of adults and youths along suitable courses.”257 The Acts of Antigua and Saint Christopher and Nevis also make provision for further education “which shall consist of full time education beyond secondary education or in addition to it.”258 In the case of Saint Christopher and Nevis, the Minister is empowered to participate “in the discharge of the responsibilities of the Government with respect to university education.”259 No responsibilities are indicated so one is left to surmise what these might be. Saint Lucia provides further education which may be “full time education beyond secondary education, namely teacher training, technical and university education.”260 These clearly allow for establishment of tertiary institutions. Section 4(1)(d)(c) of the Grenada Education Act261 empowers the Minister to make regulations regarding “(i) the establishment, maintenance and discontinuance of vocational schools and institutions of further education, their administration and management; (ii) the operation of Private Vocational Schools.” The Minister could, therefore, introduce regulations within the ambit of the power to regulate tertiary institutions which are “institutions of further education.”

The Act of Dominica262 makes no reference to tertiary education whether explicitly or implicitly. Montserrat’s Ordinance permits the “[Governor] in Council” to make regulations for “the establishment of a system of vocational and technical education.”263 This is the closest that the Ordinance comes to a reference which, liberally interpreted, permits some activity that could qualify to be “tertiary.”

The only Act to give special treatment to tertiary education is that of Saint Vincent. As noted earlier, the definition of tertiary education applies to education suited to the requirements of persons over the age of fifteen years.264 Such education may be offered at colleges, technical colleges and any other institution of higher education.265 Definitions apart, the Act is content to empower the Minister to appoint an Education Board to govern and control tertiary institutions.266 It is left to the Minister to specify “the duties relating to the management and operation” of tertiary institutions.267

Elsewhere, reference was made to the establishment of new tertiary institutions. The Sir Arthur Community College Act of Saint Lucia provided for the establishment of the named institution along lines identical to the Barbados Community College Act.268 The aim of the College is to offer instruction in Agriculture, Arts and Science and General Studies, Health Sciences, Teacher Education and Educational Administration, Technical Education and Management Studies, and “in such other fields of education as the Minister may from time to time determine.”269 Provision is made for the appointment of a Board of Governors which “shall be a body corporate,”270 the appointment of committees by the Board,271 the delegation of powers by the Board,272 acquisition of funds,273 borrowing powers,274 accounts,275 auditing and accounting of funds,276 and the issuance of directions by the Minister “after consultation of the Board.”277 A schedule to the Act outlines the constitution, functions and procedure of the Board of Governors.

In many ways, this legislation is a specie of a new type. The Act creates an institution relatively free of ministerial and bureaucratic control  and  interference.  The college is an  independent  institution in  its  own  right.  Where  it  is felt that this option is not politically feasible or advisable, alternative approaches may be considered. One such approach is that of Barbados. Section 27 of the Education Act permits the Minister to provide by Order “for the management of any tertiary institution.” An Order may provide for the tertiary institution to be managed by a Board of Management. The Minister is also empowered, if he thinks fit to appoint an advisory board “to advise on and assist with, the management of tertiary institutions.”  The appointment of an Advisory Board is without prejudice to the existence of a Board of Management.278

This overview of the tertiary sector would be incomplete without reference to the Universities and Colleges (Licensing and Control) Ordinance of Montserrat279 and the Saint George’s University (School of Medicine) Act.280 The Grenada Act allows for the incorporation of a specific foreign-owned institution. The Montserrat Ordinance is of general application, permitting the establishment of local and foreign-owned institutions in Montserrat. The universities and colleges established by virtue of the Ordinance are not integrated into the local education system. To that extent the Ordinance may be noted but ignored.

Legal Recognition of Tertiary Education

The rapid expansion of tertiary education throughout the OECS does require legal recognition and definition. However, any proposed legislation should be flexible and enabling in character for the simple reason that the sector is a developing one. The approach adopted in Barbados and noted above is worthy of consideration.