(CNS): The education minister finally steered the education law through the Legislative Assembly Wednesday with support on both sides of the parliament. Describing the process of bringing the bill, Tara Rivers said it had been a “highly consultative process” and that the law had not been developed in a vacuum but in partnership with all of the stakeholders. She stated that the legislation paved the way for the involvement of the private sector in the public education system, adding that it addressed the “concerns of today” but had the “flexibility to address the concerns of tomorrow”.
Since the calls following the EY report to privatise the public school system in some way or introduce academy or charter type schools, which have received very mixed results in other jurisdiction, the ministry has backed off the idea for the time being. But Rivers said the legislation paved the way for much more non-governmental or private sector involvement in the provision of education, especially, she said, where there were limited resources.
Avoiding use of the term ‘privatisation’, she spoke about partnerships and opportunities to harness partners who want to help address provision and capacity but did not clarify what that meant. She pointed out too that the new law will regulate and set standards for existing private sector schools as well as public schools, but above all the law paved the way for government and the ministry to set education policy.
The minister said the priority of the law was to introduce concrete action plans nationally and address the concerns of the baseline inspections and standards, but there would be future opportunities for “innovative solutions”.
When she presented the legislation the minister said the law would guide the management and practice of education from early years through vocational training.
“It’s a comprehensive provision for education from cradle to grave,” Rivers said, adding that it would provide the substantive framework for all education policies and provide people of all abilities in education. She pointed out that it was also the first piece of legislation passed by the government in line with the new disabilities bill.
Among the many changes the law sets out compulsory subjects, which in addition to maths and English now includes religious studies, civics and Caymanian culture.
See the draft bill in the CNS Library