Schools should do more
Government alone can’t carry the huge financial bill for education.
Stressing yesterday in the House of Assembly former Prime Minister Owen Arthur said that in the wake of a fiscal crisis, schools have got to be more financially self-sufficient. The long-standing Member of Parliament for St Peter, said that in several other countries, education and other institutions were funded by trust and endowment funds as much as they were by direct grants from Government.
“Some may say when haven’t we done this in the past. We now face a fiscal crisis and we must open up our minds. We must find ways by which we can optimise revenues that canaccrue to our schools from the fullest use of the facilities of the school and from encouraging the boards of the schools not only to treat to educational issues before them, but to seethat there is a need for them to become more financially self-sufficient,” Arthur said.
Stressing that the area for the greatest reform and innovation was education, Arthur said it must not be how much we cut, but how “we reform and innovate.” Arthur said that manyeducational facilities were under-utilised. “How many schools set out from the start of the year to make money from functions?” he asked.
He said that schools do not like to report what they have for fear that the Minister of Finance may take it away from them.
“Goals must now be set. There is scope for innovation and there is scope for reform. Let us try to maximise in an innovative way the use of our educational facilities because it is the greatest under-utilised physical facility in this country at this time,” he said.
The former PM lambasted the constituency councils saying there was no nexus between them and the educational system in any serious way. He said the constituency councils were involved in a lot of trivial things such as debushing and had no working relationship with primary schools. Arthur said when he checked the Economic and Social report of Barbados,there was not one instance of any constituency council’s activities involved working with the schools at primary level.
“Have working relationships been established between constituency councils and school boards, so as to enable us to be satisfied that the nexus is intended to be secured between the local communities and the new institutions created by the state?” he asked.
Arthur was speaking during debate on the Estimates.