2013/2014 Sectoral Debate: Minister of Education, the Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites

Photo: JIS Photographer Minister of Education, the Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites.

Mr. Speaker, this presentation is a collaborative effort of many of the Departments and Agencies of the Ministry of Education. It is not a one-person creation.

Since National Development and personal growth cannot succeed without educational transformation, all of us, parents, teachers, students and employees of the Ministry of Education must contribute to policy and action and all of us must therefore take a share of the responsibility.

Improvement in Education takes money and it also takes committed individuals, and a willingness to change. Government, business, families, Church, people of goodwill here and abroad, spend massive sums on Education each year.

Seventy-five billion dollars ($75 billion) from the budget is invested annually in Education, perhaps double that if one includes the expenditure of parents and the private sector.

Nearly seven hundred thousand (700,000) children and young people are in schools; 69,000 in tertiary institutions, 44,330 registered in our 13 publicly funded tertiary institutions (2011-12 data). Almost one thousand and twenty five (1,025) public schools, six hundred (600) private ones, three thousand (3,000) basic and infant. Of the forty five thousand (45,000) employees in the public education sector, twenty seven thousand (27,000) of them are teachers, in the pay of, but not the control of the State.

The returns on all this investment are not good enough. We cannot continue to accept mediocrity; to be satisfied with so-called graduations at all types of schools where half of the students have not attained the required standard. This is a call to action.

Last year was for assessment. This year is for change. If all play their part and contribute to the success of education then we will have enough resources to take decisive steps which would produce more qualified and better adjusted citizens. The parents paying auxiliary fees, teachers and educators paying greater attention to their students, savings from better use of resources by the sector, and private sector partnerships.

It would be foolish to deny that much scope for national decision making has been eroded by our debt-burden. What the IMF is requiring of the Education Sector is largely what we need to do for ourselves.

We can determine how to spend the Education budget more purposefully; to avoid the systematic waste, and to change entitlements that we cannot afford. This is a call to action.

Our task is to achieve what we have to, with what is in our hands…READ MORE

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