Joint select committee on education report expected soon
A report from the joint select committee on education set up in late 2008 is expected soon, the Premier's press secretary said last night.
Paula Cox's spokeswoman told
The Royal Gazette that the Premier intervened recently about the lack of any tabled findings from the committee and suggested administrative staff prepare the report.
“The responsibility for the findings of a joint select committee falls under the remit of the House of Assembly and those empowered within the committee for recording such events,” said the spokeswoman.
“However, as the Premier reviews all matters of governance, a few weeks ago she raised this issue with the relevant parties and recommended a way forward that would use secretariat resources to produce the report. The completion is anticipated within a short period of time.”
The bipartisan committee began meeting in October 2008, when it was tasked with reporting back to Parliament on the implementation of ten recommendations from the 2007 Hopkins Report on public schools.
Committee chairman Neletha Butterfield, then a PLP backbencher, said she hoped to produce a report for MPs by the following month, after educators, union leaders, politicians and other citizens gave evidence.
The committee continued to meet until early last year but the report never materialised and Ms Butterfield had to resign as chairman when she was made Culture Minister in June 2009.
Speaker Stanley Lowe appears never to have appointed another chairman. Asked about the committee and its failure to produce a report, he said yesterday: “It's being looked into.”
Education Minister Dame Jennifer Smith declined to comment, referring queries to the House of Assembly.
Ms Butterfield, now Minister of Public Information Services, said: “It was up to the Clerk [to the Legislature] and the Speaker to select a new chairman and they should reply.
“It is a House of Assembly issue and they should reply to the fullest. Reports just need to be compiled.”
Opposition Senate Leader and committee member Jeanne Atherden said the failure to appoint a new chairman or insist on a report “said a lot”.
“This, to me, says ‘we are not serious about this'. I'm disappointed because I have a keen interest in education and I know that's where we have to make the changes if we are going to do anything for the kids.”
She said of the committee: “We never got onto the substantive reasons that we were there. It seems to me that there was something that the chairman was going to try to do from an organisational [point of] view that we were waiting for and it never happened. Then she was made Culture Minister.
“We were left waiting for the sort of next step, knowing that time was ticking on.”
The Shadow Economy Minister added: “At the time you don't believe it's wasted [time] because you are on the road to getting to the next step. But then you realise that we have lost time.”
She said a keen watch needed to be kept on future joint select committees including one recently formed on violent crime and gun violence to ensure they served their purpose.
Other members of the committee were Shadow Education Minister Grant Gibbons, Attorney General Michael Scott, Government Chief Whip Lovitta Foggo, former PLP senator Walton Brown, Shadow Transport Minister Charlie Swan and former UBP MP Jon Brunson.