Reid says NCE being subsumed into education ministry

Reid says NCE being subsumed into education ministry

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, March 07, 2019

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EDUCATION Minister Senator Ruel Reid said Tuesday that the National Council on Education (NCE) will be subsumed into the ministry, but will continue to advise the minister.

Senator Reid made the statement after Opposition MP Lisa Hanna questioned the allocation of $32.7 million in the 2019/20 budget, despite the subsuming of the NCE, during Tuesday’s meeting of the Standing Finance Committee (SFC) of the House of Representatives, which has been reviewing the 2019/20 estimates of expenditure.

The funds were allocated to the NCE to meet operational expenses. The NCE has the task of making informed policy recommendations to the minister, recommending appointments to school boards as well as training board chairmen and members.

Senator Reid said that the concept of the NCE as an advisory body to the ministry will continue, as it will still have a board which will give advice. However, he said that operationally the current staff has been incorporated into other areas of the ministry, including the accounting staff, the planning unit, support staff for policy research and statistics, as well as executive services and office manager.

He also noted that the decision to subsume the council into the ministry’s operations was not his, but was due to an agreement with the International Monetary Fund to reduce the number of public bodies operated by the Government.

The Jamaica Information Service had earlier reported Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke as saying that the Government had identified 18 additional public bodies, including the NCE, to be merged or reintegrated into parent ministries, or closed by September this year.

But Opposition spokesman on education and the former minister, Ronald Thwaites, felt that the move could compromise the independence of the NCE as an advisory board to the minister.

“They can put a break on autocratic ministerial activity,” Thwaites advised the SFC on Tuesday. He insisted that bringing the council into the ministry could take away its independence and place it under the influence of ministry officials.

“This can’t be healthy for you… It is not good for a minister to, in any way, be bereft of independent advice,” he said to the minister.

But Senator Reid insisted that the functions of the NCE would not change, and that the secretariat would continue to be active.

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