One year ago this week, the Education Minister allayed fears that the Royal Education Council will be dissolved. The minister relayed the information, as speculations were rife that the Council would be dissolved or merged with the education ministry’s department of curriculum and research development (DCRD).
But with the sacking of 42 employees of the Council, have the initial fears come true? In principle, the Royal Education Council exists. But it is just a name. Judging by the decision to let go off the entire staff of the Council, the DCRD is now the Royal Education Council.
Information is vague on why the decision was made. Apart from 42 aggrieved employees, who will have to look for new jobs by the end of next month, nothing is clear.
Eight months ago, the two were merged to create an apex institution that will help education grow in the country and to avoid the overlapping and duplication of roles and function of the two agencies.
The Royal Education Council was established with a mandate to conduct research, review and assess education policies, practices, and programmes, develop and pilot innovative programmes, provide technical expertise, publish literature, design systemic assessments, pioneer use of ICT in education, mobilise funds to carry out its works and provide a forum for exchange of information among national and international educational institutions.
Unfortunately, not much could materialise. In the initial years, some saw it as a parallel ministry encroaching the mandate of the ministry and therefore were hesitant to implement the recommendations, made after research and analysis, to improve the quality of education in the country. The Council was looked upon as an external body that was finding faults in the ministry or its departments.
The merger was expected to assist the professional growth of the education sector of how it will benefit the country 100 years down the line. Whatever promoted the decision makers to take the decision, we can surmise it is for the good of the education sector and the quality of education that is continuously being questioned.
What is apparent is that there is the need for good research, curricula and teacher development, a priority of the education ministry. If there is duplication of work, we cannot afford to have two organisations do the same thing. The resources and energy could be diverted to some productive activities.
There are skeptics who feel the government is doing away with all the initiatives of the previous government drawing from the controversial Education City project. Elected governments come with new ideas and innovations. The current government, for instance, prioritised establishing central schools as an initiative to improve the quality of education.
Education is an important sector and every initiative or reform to shape the nation’s future is a welcome initiative. But the future of our children will be compromised if policies cannot transcend politics.