OBA concerned by Act’s ‛concentration of power’
A proposed change in the law allowing the Minister of Education to hand pick the deputy chairman of the Board of Education represents a “concentration of power” the One Bermuda Alliance claims.
Diallo Rabain, the education minister, tabled the Education Amendment (No. 2) Act 2021 in the House of Assembly earlier this month.
Susan Jackson, who speaks on education in the House of Assembly, said: “The OBA is naturally concerned when there’s a concentration of power to potentially influence the composition of any government board.
“The Board of Education is very much involved in the strategic direction of Bermuda’s public education and these amendments prevent the Board of Education from selecting their own deputy chair.
“This amendment will now give the minister power to appoint both chairman and deputy chairman of the Board of Education.”
However, Ms Jackson supported other amendments to the Act including one that permits the Permanent Secretary of the education ministry to attend meetings.
“The amendment allowing the Permanent Secretary to attend meetings is acceptable. The law does not allow the Permanent Secretary to vote. This additional resource can assist the board by having a subject matter expert as a resource in the room.
“It is concerning the minister now has the power to appoint both executive members of the board.”
A third amendment, if passed, would mean the board would no longer make recommendations to the Public Service Commission on the appointment of department directors and principals.
Ms Jackson described this as “a positive step” but questioned why it did not go further.
Ms Jackson added: “This amendment removes the Board of Education from making recommendations to the Public Service Commission on the hiring of directors of the Department of Education and school principals.
“I wonder why not also remove the board from making recommendation for the Commissioner of Education?
“Remember, the Public Service Commission, in accordance with the Bermuda Constitution Order, is an independent body, politically impartial and responsible directly to the Governor and therefore, should not necessarily be influenced by any recommendations.”