SECONDARY - PSSA
PRIVATE SECONDARY SCHOOLS – CLOSING DOWN (02/12/08)
(No. B/1355) Mr G. Gunness (Third Member for Montagne Blanche and GRSE) asked the Minister of Education, Culture and Human Resources whether, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Private Secondary Schools Authority, information as to if the Authority has recommended the closing down of three private secondary schools in 2010 and, if so, indicate the measures that will be taken for the timely redeployment of all the teaching and non teaching staff.
Reply: I am informed by the Private Secondary Schools Authority (PSSA) that in the context of its annual exercise for the registration of schools to operate as from the next school year, there are three existing private secondary schools namely Bradley College, Byron College and Grand Bois College which do not satisfy one of the conditions for registration in that they have a school population which is below the maximum threshold of 150.
Strictly speaking, these schools should not have been registered to operate in January 2009. However, following representations from the Federation of Union of Managers of private secondary schools to the effect that they resent an abrupt closing down of any school at the beginning of the year, the PSSA has agreed to a softer approach by listing these schools for closing down in 2010 only, thereby giving the Managers concerned a moratorium of one year to plan and prepare themselves for the eventual closing.
My Ministry and the PSSA will ensure the redeployment of all students to allow them to continue and complete their secondary schooling in another educational institution where vacancies exist and as near as possible to their place of residence.
As regards the staff, it has up to now been the practice to absorb all teaching and non-teaching staff in MEDCO and to redeploy them in either MEDCO schools, State secondary schools or other sectors where their services may be required. These arrangements stand good.
BYRON, BRADLEY & GRAND BOIS COLLEGES – REDEPLOYMENT SCHEME (27/10/09)
(No. B/1053) Mr G. Gunness (Third Member for Montagne & GRSE) asked the Minister of Education, Culture and Human Resources whether, in regard to the three colleges scheduled to be closed down in 2010, he will now state if the redeployment of the scheme of the teaching and non-teaching staff thereof has already been worked out and, if so, give details thereof and, if not, why not.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr. Deputy Speaker Sir, in reply to PQ B/850 on 14 July 2009, I informed the House of the situation with regard to the three colleges, namely Byron College, Bradley College and Grand Bois College. Before going any further, let me reassure the hon. Member that, in the event of the closure of any school, arrangements will be made through MEDCO in line with the existing redeployment scheme for the teaching and non-teaching staff to be redeployed on no less favourable terms.
With regard to Bradley College, in July this year, a mise en demeure was served upon the PSSA and the Ministry by the Management of Bradley College contesting the decision of the PSSA and requesting it not to implement its decision to withhold the registration of the school as a grant-aided private secondary school as from January 2010 and onwards. Bradley College on the other hand has good infrastructure and industrial relations are not a perennial problem. In the case of Grand Bois College and Byron College, we have also noted that they have admitted a good number of pre-voc students exceeding the threshold for the prevocational stream, and many come from deprived areas.
My Ministry has examined the matter and observed that recommendations were made for closure of schools on ground of a shortfall by a relatively low number of students in the mainstream while in the pre-voc stream it exceeded the threshold. In line with our policy for an all-inclusive education system, we should not penalise schools which have admitted students in deprived areas especially where the school is situated in an isolated area and closure of same can cause social problems. It was concluded that in the event the school is made to close down, this may cause undue hardship and prejudice to the pre-voc students.
Taking into consideration the social implication of such a step, it was decided that the matter would be reviewed.
Accordingly, a Technical Committee comprising representatives of my Ministry, the PSSA and the Management Audit Bureau has been appointed to review the existing criteria for payment of grants.
Pending the review of the criteria for payment of grants, we have given one additional year moratorium to Byron College and Grand Bois College. As regard Bradley College, it is expected to continue its operations and will be subject to normal assessment by the PSSA.
Mr Bérenger: Can I ask the hon. Minister for facts? Is it a fact that the regulations gazetted have been gazetted by the PSSA which, under the law, has the responsibility of setting the conditions whenever a school will close down and the PSSA has not amended those regulations? Is it, therefore a fact that the Ministry is in contradiction with the law, with the regulations prepared and gazetted by the PSSA?
Dr. Bunwaree: There is difficulty there, but we are saying that we are reviewing; we have appointed a technical committee. But all these will be put in order once we have the technical, it is not going to take too much time. The problem is that these three colleges have been given a warning for one year which is lapsing this year. We are extending that moratorium for two colleges essentially. For Bradley, why there is deux poids deux measures en quelques sorte? C’est parce que pour Bradley College, there is no industrial relation whereas in the two other colleges, the industrial relations are there and this poses another problem. So, if not, all the three would have been in the same boat.
Mr Gunness: It seems that the hon. Minister is changing the policy because previously it was, for stoppage of grant, 150 for the mainstream and 25 for prevocational.
The hon. Minister himself answered questions in 2008 where he announced that it will operate in 2009 and in 2010 there will be stoppage of grants and pupils would be redeployed.
Can the hon. Minister inform the House, for example, in the case of Byron College, how many pupils does the college have in the mainstream?
Dr. Bunwaree: As to the last assessment, in the mainstream it is 180 and 47 in the pre-voc sector. As I am saying Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the figures have changed because more of the pre-voc are being admitted.
Mr Gunness: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, again I think that the hon. Minister will have to be clear. We are all for education, we all care for the deprived area. Is the hon. Minister aware that in 2009 Byron college has only 10 pupils actually in Form I. According to regulations, since it has less than 15 pupils in Form I, it should not have gone for prevocational.
Is the hon. Minister aware of that?
Dr. Bunwaree: I am aware of that Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. In certain cases the colleges are placed in such locality that the closing down causes social problems. This also had to be taken care of. T here is a technical committee working on that and we will come to a decision.
Mr Gunness: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, if we take the Flacq region there are 18 colleges, namely, the MGI, the Gajadhur, the Darwin, the Eastern Colleges and so many other colleges. The point that the hon. Minister is trying to make does not stand. According to my information we have 103 in the mainstream. The hon. Minister himself last year stated that grant will be stopped and pupils are to be redeployed?
Dr. Bunwaree: What I have stated I am going to state again. I state that there is a technical committee working on that. As we have decided to set up this technical committee, we have not taken actions and actions will be taken soon.
Mr Gunness: Has the hon. Minister looked into the industrial relation in that particular case? For example, is he aware that, I think 9 former Rectors have been sued and there are actually court cases against Rectors?
Dr. Bunwaree: As I said there are industrial relation problems. All these are being looked into. This is a very important and we are following very closely.
The Deputy Speaker: Last question!
Mr Gunness: Can I ask the hon. Minister to personally intervene in that particular case?
Dr. Bunwaree: Personally, I brought it to Cabinet and decision was taken to set up the committee and to review the conditions.
The Deputy Speaker Sir: Thank you, hon. Minister. Hon. Bhagwan!
SECONDARY SCHOOLS (PRIVATE) – REDUNDANT TEACHERS – INCREMENT (10/11/09)
(No. B/1130) Mr S. Mohamed (Third Member for Rivière des Anguilles & Souillac) asked the Minister of Education, Culture and Human Resources whether, in regard to the teachers of private secondary schools, who were made redundant in 1983, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Private Secondary School Authority, information as to the actions taken for them to recover their lost increments
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, in February 1983, following the closing down of 22 private secondary schools which had a very low school population, an Agreement was signed between Government and the Union of Private Secondary Education Employees (UPSEE) whereby Government agreed to do everything within its authority, prerogative and jurisdiction to redeploy 239 redundant employees (220 Teachers and 19 non-teaching staff) of private secondary schools.
For period January 1983 to December 1983, the redundant employees of these schools were paid an allowance in lieu of salary equivalent to their December 1982 salary, without the increment payable in January 1983. Subsequently, as from 1984 it was decided to adjust the allowance on the basis of the Remuneration Order, as if they were employed as from that date. It is remuneration order GN181 of 1984. They were paid an allowance equivalent to the initial point of the salary scale plus one increment for every two years of previous service.
As from May 1987, however, they started to be granted a yearly increment. It is to be noted that there has been no loss in their years of service for pension purposes.
In view of practical difficulties encountered by many redundant teachers, another agreement was signed in May 2000 between the two parties to reaffirm the Government’s commitment to safeguard the employment of excess or redundant staff of private secondary schools and to facilitate the redeployment of the employees. These redundant employees were absorbed in MEDCO and redeployed to work in the MEDCO schools, the State schools or other areas in the education sector.
Since 2004, the Union has been requesting that the redundant employees of 1983 be compensated for loss of benefits and that their salaries be adjusted accordingly. Following advice obtained, it was found that it was not legally binding for Government to grant the request and hence the proposal could not be implemented.
Subsequently, the Union came forward with a request for only a hypothetical adjustment (as from a forward date, that is, without a backdating to January 1983) of salary so as to enable the teachers concerned to take advantage of the fringe benefits attached to the adjusted salary.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the financial implications in respect of the proposal for the salaries to be hypothetically adjusted with effect from January 2007 for the existing redeployed staff (101 teachers) have been worked out by the PSSA which has taken up the matter with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Empowerment and the matter is still, according to my information, under consideration at the Ministry of Finance.
Mr Mohamed: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, since this matter has been dragging on since 1983 for quite a long time, may I ask the hon. Minister whether it would not be appropriate to call a meeting with those teachers who are still being, in some way, prejudiced by the decision of 1983; to call them and to meet them with the goodwill, hopefully, I am sure, of the hon. Vice-
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, to try to reassure them that this is under consideration and to try to accelerate the process for solutions to be found and made final once and for all?
Dr. Bunwaree: Surely, this can be envisaged. In fact, it has been envisaged. On various occasions, we have seen, according to the information I have given, that we have taken into consideration the humanitarian aspect, but there are so many implications and this is why it is taking some time. But everything has been done, it has been sent to the Ministry of Finance. If we get the approval from there, there will be no problem. If not, I will go along the line which the hon. Member has mentioned.
Mr Gunness: Can I ask the hon. Minister what is the cost implication?
Dr. Bunwaree: I can table it for the various years. It is around to Rs3 m. to Rs4 m. per year.
PSSA - NEW COMPREHENSIVE GRANT FORMULA (05/04/11)
(No. B/143) Ms L. Ribot (Third Member for Stanley and Rose Hill) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources whether, in regard to the New Comprehensive Grant Formula to be allocated to the managers of the private secondary schools, he will state where matters stand.
Reply: Private-aided secondary schools are financed on the basis of a Comprehensive Grant Formula which has been introduced in November 1989 on the recommendations of the Management Audit Bureau (MAB) in order to enable Managers of Private Secondary Schools to run and manage their schools. This exercise concerns some 91 private grant-aided secondary schools.
The grant formula is revised every three years on the basis of cost increase, achievement, experience and new policy orientations. The MAB carried out the review exercise for the period 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2009. A review of the grant formula was due as from 1 July 2009.
Taking into consideration that there had been significant changes brought to the budgetary process in the Financial Year 2008/2009, especially the introduction of Programme Based Budgeting (PBB), the new timing of the Financial Year and a transitional budgetary period of 6 months for the period July to December 2009, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development had proposed that an interim increase varying from 2.5% to 10% on certain components and representing approximately 1.2% on the current grant be paid to the Private Secondary Schools pending the overall review of the grant formula. This interim increase was granted in October 2009.
It was also decided by Government in August 2009 that two institutional mechanisms, namely, an Education Policy Committee (EPC) and a Technical Working Group (TWG), be set up under the aegis of my Ministry for the review of the grant formula. The EPC would oversee the review of the grant formula and consider other educational issues related thereto while the TWG would work out the technical aspects of the revised grant formula under the guidance of the EPC.
The TWG which was set up in January 2010 submitted its report in April last year together with its financial implications.
Given that the financial implications were substantial, consultations were held with Ministry of Finance and Economic Development which proposed in September 2010 that the formula should be a more performance-based focused on expected outcomes, service delivered (outputs) and service standards (performance indicators) in line with the PBB framework.
Following further discussions with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the Federation of Union of Managers of Private Secondary Schools, it has been agreed that a package of Rs 475 m may be disbursed in addition to arrears, estimated at about Rs 109m for the period 1 July 2009 to 31 December 2010 which would have to be paid. However, out of this package some Rs 30m would only be disbursed by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development subject to the development of new indicators of performance.
Discussions are being pursued with the Ministry of Finance regarding such new indicators.
Pending the release of the amount of Rs 30m, it has been agreed with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development that arrangements be made for the release of Rs 445m out of the package of Rs 475m in addition to the arrears due for the period 1 July 2009 to 31December 2010.
PSSA EMPLOYEES UNION – REPRESENTATIONS (21/06/11)
(No. B/553) Mr S. Obeegadoo (Third Member for Curepipe & Midlands) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources whether, in regard to the Private Secondary Schools Authority (PSSA), he will state if he has been informed of the representations from the PSSA Employees Union in relation to the functioning thereof and, if so, if an inquiry has been carried out thereinto and the outcome thereof.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the Private Secondary Schools Authority Employees Union has, in a letter dated 20 May 2011, made representations relating to a number of issues at the PSSA on understaffing and non-filling of long overdue vacancies, absence of proper training, inadequate logistics, lack of support from Management to proposals for review of salary and conditions of service, and the need for restructuring.
The Union has also stated that there should be a policy of constant dialogue between the Management and staff representatives, so that constructive proposals can be made with a view to bringing improvement and promoting sound industrial relations.
With a view to addressing the matter, my Ministry requested the PSSA to submit a report on the issues raised by the Union.
I am informed by the PSSA that its Management has met the Executive Committee of the PSSA Employees Union to reassure them that their concerns were being addressed and sorted out, and certain misunderstandings clarified.
According to the report from the PSSA on the grievances, the staffing problem seems not to be so acute at the Authority. The Authority has already embarked on a recruitment process, to fill in relevant vacant positions after following established recruitment procedures.
With regard to the representation on inadequate training, the Authority has advised that there is a Staff Development Scheme at the PSSA to sponsor staff on courses relevant to their duties. From July 2007 to date, eight officers from various sections benefited from direct sponsorship by the PSSA. However, it is felt that training should be extended to a greater number of officers.
As regards logistics, I am informed that, as at now, staff of all sections, except the Supervision Unit, has their own computer, and many have also Internet facilities. The PSSA has decided to extend provision of computer facilities to the supervisors. Twelve additional computers will be provided to the supervisors shortly. Logistic and communication facilities will also be provided to the staff concerned.
As for the absence of support from Management regarding proposals for review of salary and conditions, I wish to highlight that, at the meeting of the Private Secondary Schools Board held in May 2011, it has been suggested to the Board that an appropriate mechanism be set up at the level of the PSSA, so that there is a constant dialogue between Management and the Trade Union, such that all their representations and grievances are addressed in a structured and constructive manner for sound industrial relations. The Board agreed to this proposal.
A Committee is accordingly being set up at the level of the PSSA to look into the proposals of the Union for the next PRB exercise. Appropriate recommendations would be submitted to the PRB, after being endorsed by the Private Secondary Schools Board.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, my Ministry is closely following up with the PSSA, which has been requested to meet the Union on a regular basis and address their grievances. We shall also extend our full support to many of the proposals of the Union for review of the conditions of service of the PSSA staff in the context of the next exercise by the PRB.
I wish to inform the House that the PSSA has also been requested to carry out an inhouse brainstorming on the review of the role, functions and operations of the Authority, and come up with proposals to amend the PSSA Act, taking into account its new role and responsibilities, the proposed management and funding framework, the pedagogical and curriculum innovations being introduced, including new assessment programmes and quality assurance needs.
In the context of this exercise, I shall be inviting all interested parties and stakeholders to also submit their proposals on the overall review.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I wish also to add that we are committed to providing the PSSA and its staff with the necessary support and resources, so that it becomes a more effective and proactive institution in the context of our efforts to reform and modernise the education sector. I shall personally see to it that this happens, and will certainly be meeting the Union representatives shortly, at the appropriate time.
Mr Obeegadoo: Would the hon. Minister be aware of the fact that the cadre responsible for visiting private secondary schools, monitoring the implementation of grants and so on, has dropped dramatically from a number of 30 over the last few years to a mere 13 and, if so, will he tell us why the situation was allowed to deteriorate in such a manner?
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Speaker, Sir, in the context of reforms, we are, in fact, seeing en profondeur the PSSA Act itself. I didn’t mention it here also because we are waiting for the work to be done at the PSSA. But, very soon, we are going to have a forum organised where all stakeholders will have to come forward and give their views.
Mr Obeegadoo: The Minister chose not to answer the question which was why the situation has been allowed to deteriorate, so be it. May I put it to him that, in fact, it is because the conditions of employment of that cadre - inspectors or supervisors, by whatever name called - no longer compare favourably to those of education officers/educators so much so that there are no applications for vacancies in that existing grade. If so, will he agree to look into this matter urgently and take appropriate steps so that it be corrected?
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, we are looking into that. In fact we have already started looking into that and there are many other specific issues; we cannot take it only on this one.
Mrs Ribot: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would also like to ask the hon. Minister to look as far as the shortage of staff is concerned not only in the grade supervisors, but also in the grade of clerical officers and even long overdue nomination of an assistant director?
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes I am informed that they are in the process of appointing a few of them.
PSSA - EMPLOYEES - DISCIPLINARY BOARD (09/07/13)
(No. B/674) Mrs L. Ribot (Third Member for Stanley & Rose Hill) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources whether, in regard to the Private and Secondary Schools Authority, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain therefrom, information as to the number of employees thereof which have been referred to the Disciplinary Board thereof, since 2005 to
date, indicating the number of cases thereof which -
(a) have been settled, and
(b) are pending, indicating in each case, the date on which the employee was suspended.
PSSA – BOARD OF DISCIPLINE (09/07/13)
Mrs L. Ribot (Third Member for Stanley & Rose Hill): Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the issue I am raising is addressed to the hon. Minister of Education and Human Resources and concerns the Board of Discipline of the Private Secondary Schools Authority.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, as it is, cases of indiscipline and misconduct are referred to the PSSA by Managers of schools. The case is analysed by the PSSA and sent to the Ministry of Education so that the Ministry sets up the Board of Discipline. By the time the board is set up and gets the lawyers concerned to fix dates on which they are available, proceeds with the
hearings and comes forward with its recommendations, years have elapsed – I say years! By that time, the suspended employee is simply benefitting from his full salary. There have been cases, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, where the employees have been suspended and benefiting from their salary for four to five years and, right now, two employees from Rodrigues Island have been
waiting for two years to have their case settled. My request to the hon. Minister of Education is to have the procedures of the Board of Discipline reviewed so that the recommendation of the Board reaches the suspended employee not later than a few months and not years after the beginning of the suspension.
That would be a step to good governance and will avoid wastage of
The Minister of Education and Human Resources (Dr. V. Bunwaree): Yes, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, this has been like that for years and years. In fact, we are looking into the matter and the whole review of the PSSA is going to be brought at some time in the legislation.