PRIMARY & SECONDARY (GENERAL ISSUES)
RODRIGUES MUSEUM – SETTING UP (25/11/08)
(No. B/1333) Mr J. Von-Mally (Fourth Member for Rodrigues) asked the Minister of Education, Culture and Human Resources whether, in regard to the project for the setting up of a Rodrigues Museum, he will state if Government will consider arranging with friendly countries to have certain fossils/artifacts, like the Solitaire, to be handed over to the Rodrigues Regional Assembly for them to be placed in the museum.
Reply: The reply is in the affirmative.
The Mauritius Museums Council (MMC), which operates under the aegis of my Ministry, is already collaborating fully with the Rodrigues Regional Assembly for the setting up of the Rodrigues Museum.
In September 2008, the Chairperson and two senior officers of the MMC had working sessions in Rodrigues with the view to helping in the setting up of the Rodrigues Museum and to advise on the collection of specimens and artifacts.
The MMC has also agreed to hand over to the Rodrigues Museum a set of bones of the Solitaire, presently in its collection.
I am also informed that an unmounted skeleton of the Solitaire is available and is presently being kept in an office of the Rodrigues Forestry Services.
This may be taken over by the Rodrigues Museum.
My Ministry will also do its utmost to assist the Rodrigues Museum in obtaining any fossils/artifacts which are either unique or specific to Rodrigues or are associated with its history and environment.
This will be done through the Cultural Agreements, which we have with several countries.
NATIONAL LIBRARY – NEW BUILDING (09/12/08)
(No. B/1444) Mrs M. Martin (Second Member for Curepipe & Midlands) asked the Minister of Education, Culture & Human Resources whether, in regard to the project for the construction of a new building to house the National Library, he will state where matters stand.
LE HOCHET, TERRE ROUGE – MINOR D. H. – ACCIDENT (31/03/09)
(No. B/5) Mr G. Lesjongard (Second Member for Port Louis North and Montagne Longue) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs whether, in regard to the accident which occurred on Wednesday 25 February 2009 at Le Hochet, Terre Rouge, in which minor D. H.4was involved, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Commissioner of Police, information as to if an inquiry has been carried out thereto, and, if so, the outcome thereof.
The Ag. Prime Minister: With your permission, I shall reply to Parliamentary Questions B/5 and B/10 together as they both relate to the same issue.
I am informed by the Commissioner of Police that, on 25 February 2009, at around 0730 hours a road accident occurred at a bus stop at Le Hochet, Terre Rouge, involving a bus operating along Route 21 and one D.H., aged 11 years, student at London College. It appears that the student fell down and was injured while boarding the bus. She was taken to the SSRN Hospital where she had to undergo a surgery on the same day and her left lower limb had to be amputated.
The case was reported to the Police on the same day. The bus driver and the conductor were arrested in connection with the accident.
On 26 February 2009, both of them appeared before the Pamplemousses District Court and they were provisionally charged of “Involuntary Wounds and Blows by Imprudence”.
The driver was released on bail on the same day upon furnishing a surety of Rs10,000 while the conductor was released on bail upon furnishing a surety of Rs5,000 on 27 February 2009.
Both of them would appear again before the Pamplemousses District Court on 12 May 2009.
The Police inquiry is still under way.
Mr Speaker, Sir, I would like to take this opportunity to convey once again my deepest sympathy to the victim of this tragic accident and to her parents. May I add that Government is providing all possible assistance to Miss Halloomun and her parents. In this regard, the National Solidarity Fund under the aegis of the Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions has provided a financial assistance of Rs25,000 to the family of the student. Action has already been initiated to provide the student with the following additional support:
(i) the National Council for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons has agreed to provide a stipend of Rs500 monthly as from February 2009 up to the year in which the student will complete her S.C. examinations;
(ii) provision for especial transport facilities to attend school is being provided as required;
(iii) the student as well as the accompanying parent will also be eligible for refund of equivalent bus fare to attend school;
(iv) bus pass will also be provided to her for travelling on any day at any time, including weekend.
Other assistance such as wheelchair, prosthesis and social/carer’s allowance will be provided depending upon medical recommendation.
Mr Speaker, Sir, further financial assistance is also being considered under the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. Moreover, the Ministry of Women Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare is providing psychological support to the family and to her and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Human Resources is looking into the possibility of having the student transferred to a Secondary School nearer to her place of residence should she so wish. This is being discussed with the parents of the student.
Mr Lesjongard: This is, indeed, a sad case où une fille venant d’une famille ouvrière a vu ses rêves brisés parce qu’elle rêvait de devenir hôtesse de l’air, Mr Speaker, Sir, Je mettrai cela sur le dos du transport gratuit, M. le président. May I ask…
Mr Speaker: Order!
Order! Order please! Order! I was expecting a question from the hon. Member.
Mr Lesjongard: Mr Speaker, Sir, may I ask the hon. Ag. Prime Minister why was it that it was only after family members of that girl and inhabitants of that locality staged a protest in front of the Terre Rouge Police Station that the driver and the bus conductor were arrested?
The Ag. Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir, I will not go into the details of the sad case. What I did learn is that they both went on their own account to the Police Station where it was considered that they were
safe. Concerning the remarks of putting it on free transport for the students, I think this is not possible.
Mr Speaker: You have made your point, hon. David! Quiet now!
Mr Lesjongard: Mr Speaker, Sir, will the hon. Ag. Prime Minister confirm whether when Police Officers went on the site of the accident, the bus was still there?
The Ag. Prime Minister: I cannot provide all the details, but the description of the accident is such that I have reason to believe that the bus was there and the child had been removed.
Mrs Navarre-Marie: Mr Speaker, Sir, is the Ag. Prime Minister aware that it is regular practice for conductors and drivers to leave passengers at the bus stop and refuse to pick them?
Mr Speaker: That is a general question. It is not arising out of this question. Next question!
Mr Lesjongard: One last question, Mr Speaker, Sir. Can the hon. Ag. Prime Minister confirm whether he has information about the number of passengers on that bus?
The Ag. Prime Minister: Sir, I do not have the information whether the bus was full, whether the bus did anything that was untoward, but the NTA is going to inquire as soon as they have any representation.
TERRE ROUGE MINOR D.H. – ACCIDENT (31/03/09)
(No. B/10) Mrs Jeewa-Daureeawoo (Third Member for Stanley and Rose Hill) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home ffairs whether, in regard to the recent accident which occurred at a bus stop in Terre Rouge, involving one D. H., a college student, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Commissioner of Police, information as to if an inquiry has been carried out thereinto and, if so, indicate the outcome thereof.
(Vide reply to PQ No. B/5)
TORRENTIAL RAINFALL 26.03.08 – FACT-FINDING COMMITTEE REPORT (07/04/09)
(No. B/90) Mr P. Jhugroo (Third Member for Port Louis North & Montagne Longue) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs whether, in regard to the Fact-Finding Committee set up following the torrential rainfall which occurred on 26 March 2008, he will state where matters stand, indicating when the findings thereof will be made public.
The Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir, the report of the Fact-Finding Committee has been submitted to my Office on 23 March 2009 and its recommendations are being considered by Government.
A copy of the report is being laid on the table of the National Assembly.
Mr Jhugroo: Can the hon. Prime Minister inform the House whether any monitoring committee will be set up to monitor the implementation of the findings of the fact-finding committee?
The Prime Minister: In fact, he has made a lot of recommendations. I think it is a very good report and we are going to look at it in detail. Already we are starting to implement some of the things. He has suggested also legislation and many things about illegal constructions, cranes and also the civic culture, that is, we have to make sure Mauritians understand that they can throw, I think, the words he used are anything, anywhere, anyhow. We have to take into account a lot of things in this report.
Mr Jhugroo: May I ask the hon. Prime Minister inform the House, whether any criminal case will be lodged against those who have failed in their duties?
Mr Speaker: This question does not arise. Next question, hon. Guimbeau!.
INTEGRATION OF VULNERABLE GROUP TRUST FUND – PROJECTS (21/04/09)
(No. B/328) Mrs D. Perrier (Fourth Member for Savanne and Black River) asked the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Economic Empowerment whether, in regard to the funding of projects under
The Trust Fund for the Integration of Vulnerable Groups, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Fund, information as to-
(a) the types thereof and
(b) the eligibility criteria laid down therefor.
Reply: I wish to inform the House that one of the main objective of the Trust Fund for the Social Integration of Vulnerable Groups is to implement projects with a view to assisting vulnerable and needy families in improving their living conditions so that they can better integrate the mainstream of the society.
Accordingly, with regard to part (a) of the question the Trust Fund has been implementing the following projects/schemes:
Firstly, community based projects which are initiated and implemented through Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’S) and where emphasis is placed on people’s participation. In this respect, the Trust Fund focuses on the provision of -
(i) needs in terms CIS housing units and related facilities;
(ii) social infrastructure to improve the immediate surroundings of the community;
(iii) education support to school children in terms of school materials, uniforms, shoes and related items.
Secondly, micro-credit scheme to enable the vulnerable households to increase their revenue through income generating activities
Thirdly, loan scheme to needy students pursuing their tertiary education at the University of Mauritius, University of Technology, IVTB or the Technical School Management Trust Fund.
Furthermore, in my reply to Parliamentary Question B/49, I informed the House on 31 March 2009 that a Programme, known as Eradication of Absolute Poverty (EAP), has been put in place which focuses on the 229 pockets of poverty. The EAP Programme which is being steered by a Committee set up under the Trust Fund is adopting an integrated approach within the identified pockets of poverty in partnership with the private sector, government agencies and NGO’s in order to eliminate absolute poverty. The objective for this Financial Year is to assist some 500 families in these pockets of poverty.
In the meantime, the Committee has developed a scheme to ensure that no child of pre-primary school age from vulnerable families is left out of school. Children living in the pockets of poverty who are not attending preprimary schools are encouraged through a package of incentives to attend school regularly. These children are being provided a free meal, school fees, transport (if required) as well as school materials.
As far as part (b) of the question is concerned, the eligibility criteria for each type of project are being tabled
PUBLIC OFFICERS - CUSTOMER CARE SERVICE – TRAINING (21/04/09)
(No. B/332) Mrs M. Martin (Second Member for Curepipe and Midlands) asked the Minister of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms whether, in regard to customer care service, he will state if public officers who are in regular contact with the public have undergone training therein, since 2006 to date and, if so, indicate-
(a) the number of officers
(ii) remaining to be trained
(b) the monitoring put up to ensure that the acquired skills are put into effect and
(c) if new measures for the improvement thereof are being contemplated.
Reply: This government not only believes in “Putting People First” but is also committed and determined to translate this principle into reality.
The vision of my Ministry is to create a modern and efficient Public Service, ensure good governance and achieve excellence in the delivery of public services.
To make this a reality, there is no better way than to focus on training and development of our human resources to make them more efficient and more skillful in their job. My Ministry acts as a driver, a catalyst and a facilitator for the training and development of public officers. However ambitious we are in our vision and mission, there is a limit to what we can achieve given our scarce and limited resources.
My Ministry is responsible, among other matters for training and staff development, particularly for officers of the General Services Cadre and the Human Resource Management Cadre. My Ministry also assists other Ministries and Departments in mounting and conducting training programme that cut across the Civil Service.
In this context, my Ministry set up a specialized training programme in Customer Care and invited all Ministries and Departments to nominate public officers. Following that invitation, some 2,700 nominations were received and my Ministry has trained all these officers during period 2007-2008.
I also wish to point out that a module on customer Care is included in most of the other training programme, as well as induction courses for new entrants, thereby ensuring that a maximum number of public officers is sensitized on this area of service delivery.
I am informed that since 2006 a total around 8,570 officers have followed and completed training in Customer Care organized by my Ministry and other Ministries and Departments.
Training is an ongoing process and my Ministry attends to requests for such training as and when Ministries and Departments formulate the same to us. It is our policy to encourage continuous training for all officers, especially those who are the interface between the Organisation and the citizen/client. One recent case in point is the training in Communication and Customer Care organized jointly with the Ministry of Health & Quality of Life for Hospital Telephonists and Receptionists.
With regard to part (b) and (c) of the question, each Ministry and Department does the monitoring of its own services. However, my Ministry also assists Ministries and Departments to adopt a customer centric approach by implementing simple measures to enhance delivery of counter and customer services. In this context, “Guidelines on Improving Counter and Customer Services” have been published in the form of a booklet and widely circulated, as well as posted online on the website of my Ministry.
As yet another means to evaluate the level of public service delivery, my Ministry has introduced a new reform initiative, commonly known as ‘Mystery Shopping’. Through this initiative, the standards and level of service delivery of public organizations are assessed from the viewpoint of customers. Key aspects evaluated are Staff Behaviour and Service Delivery by front desk officers, Waiting Areas and Waiting Experience of customers.
Further, my Ministry under the Improvement of Counter Services Scheme, assists Ministries and Departments to upgrade and modernise their counter services. I need to point out that since 2006 to date, my Ministry has funded to the tune of some Rs5.4 million, 50 projects relating to improvement of counter services in various Ministries/Departments which have regular contact with the public.
PRB REPORT 2008 - ERRORS AND OMISSIONS COMMITTEE (28/04/09)
(No. B/357) Mr S. Dayal (Second Member for Quartier Militaire & Moka) asked the Minister of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms whether, in regard to the Errors and Omissions arising out of the Pay
Research Bureau Report 2008, he will state if the Committee set up to look thereinto has completed the exercise and if so, when will the report be published.
Dr. Hookoom: Mr Speaker Sir, I am informed by the Pay Research Bureau, which is an independent body, that it is in the process of finalising its Report on Errors and Omissions arising out of the 2008 PRB Report.
The Report is expected to be published by the end of May 2009.
Mr Dayal: Mr Speaker, Sir, can I know from the hon. Minister the number of representations received at his Ministry following the publication of the 2008 PRB Report, and the number of requests dealt with at the level of his Ministry?
Dr. Hookoom: Mr Speaker, Sir, 368 representations were received at my Ministry following the publication of the 2008 PRB Report. The number of requests that have been dealt with at my Ministry is 64.
Mr Dayal: Mr Speaker, Sir, following the circulation of an option form, can I ask the hon. Minister whether he will consider the advisability of keeping it in abeyance until the Errors and Omissions Committee Report is published? I raised this question a week ago.
Dr. Hookoom: Mr Speaker, Sir, the request made by the hon. Member has already been dealt with.
Mr Varma: Could the hon. Minister inform the House whether the 64 requests dealt with at his Ministry have been transmitted to the PRB?
Dr. Hookoom: It is after obtaining clarifications from the PRB that the 64 requests were dealt with at my Ministry.
CENTRAL POST OFFICE – PARCEL - STUN GUN (26/05/09)
(No. B/476) Mrs M. Hanoomanjee (Second Member for Savanne and Black River) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs whether he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Commissioner of Police, information as to if a parcel containing a stun gun was recently found at the Central Post Office and, if so, indicate the name of the recipient, indicating if,
(a) the recipient’s house has been searched and other offensive weapons found, and
(b) an inquiry has been carried out thereinto and the outcome thereof.
The Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir, I am informed by the Commissioner of Police that on Monday 06 April 2009, one Mr R. A., a student aged 21, residing at Sanatan Road, Mahebourg, called at the Parcel Post Office with a Custom Assessment and Delivery Advice Card to collect a parcel addressed to him.
Upon verification of the parcel, the Customs Officer found a weapon capable of discharging electric shocks, commonly known as stun gun, and a pair of handcuffs.
As Mr R.A was not in possession of any import permit in respect of the stun gun or the handcuffs, I suppose, the parcel was retained by the Customs Officer. The addressee undertook to produce a permit on the following day.
He called again at the Post Office on the following day without any permit. He was arrested by the Harbour ADSU and he gave his address then as being Karan Lane, Mahebourg which is a different address to the original.
On the same day, ADSU personnel searched both premises that is, Karan Lane and the other one, Sanatan Road, whatever it is, and then at Karan Lane, the following items were secured by the Police that is by ADSU. They found -
(a) one computer;
(b) one MCB credit card;
(c) two wooden bars fitted with barbwire which could be used as an offensive weapon;
(d) one hard disk and four compact discs suspected to contain information relevant to the purchase of the stun gun and handcuffs;
(e) 250 milliliters phials containing liquids which were subsequently identified by the Forensic Science Laboratory as Dilute Nitric Acid and Barium Chloride respectively, and
(f) they also found lab glasswares.
At Sanatan Road, nothing incriminating was found.
On 08 April 2009, a provisional charge of “Unlawful Possession of Weapon designed for the discharge of other thing to wit, that is, Electric Shock” in breach of Sections 24(1) and 46(1) of the Firearms Act 2006 was lodged against Mr R. A. before the Port Louis Division III Court. He was released on bail on the same day after having furnished a surety of Rs 10,000 and Rs 25,000 as recognizance.
The investigation is still in progress.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Can the hon. Prime Minister say whether it has been ascertained that the stun gun was ordered by Internet?
The Prime Minister: It has been said that it was ordered by Internet from the United States.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Speaker, Sir, in view of the seriousness of the situation and in view of the fact that facilities are now available and that people can order arms or any other item illegally, does the Prime Minister consider that it is important to amend the appropriate legislation? Because I think, according to the present legislation, there is only an imprisonment of one year and an insignificant fine of around Rs2000.
The Prime Minister: This is not my reading of the amendment which was brought at some point. I think it says here that on conviction the person shall be liable to a fine not exceeding Rs200,000 and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 15 years.
Mr Dulloo: May I ask the hon. Prime Minister whether, following this seizure, new measures have been adopted to tighten control against smuggling of weapons and drugs at the Central Post Office?
The Prime Minister: In fact, had not the measures been tightened, he could have escaped notice. In fact, because we have tightened, more cases are now being identified.
Mr Dulloo: Mr Speaker, Sir, may I ask the hon. Prime Minister to consider also the fact that one case has been caught does not necessarily mean that the control is tight? Therefore there have been many cases and one has been caught out of the many. We will have to review, notwithstanding what has been done before the measures that are in place.
The Prime Minister: I think the hon. Member did not understand me, Mr Speaker, Sir. In fact, I said many cases - not one case - have been caught. If we look at the number of cases which have been caught gradually, they are increasing, because we have tightened the measures.
NATION-BUILDING – NATIONAL CIVIC SERVICE (07/07/09)
(No. B/719) Ms K. R. Deerpalsing (Third Member for Belle Rose and Quatre Bornes) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs whether, in regard to nation-building, he will state if Government will consider setting up a compulsory National Civic Service for all citizens.
The Prime Minister: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the advisability and desirability of setting up, what the hon. Member is suggesting, a National Civil Service - I must say we canvassed internally on many occasions during the last elections as to whether we should have a National Civic Defence - we did not canvass on the National Civil Service - and also on other occasions during various brainstorming sessions at our level, again we canvassed the idea with a view to further consolidating the process of nation-building. This was in response to what we could see, the whittling down of moral, social and spiritual values in our society and also, I should say, a concurrent rise in anti-social behaviour and also a lack of discipline among some of our youth, even grown-up, a lot of lack of disciplines in this country.
Nation-building has always been high on the agenda of my Government.
In the Government Programme, we have pledged to consolidate the long tradition of mutual respect, tolerance and understanding and to garner all our will power and energy to shape a prosperous nation where our unique cultural mix would become a source of pride, inspiration and strength rather than a constraining factor in our development process. I have myself seized every opportunity to impress upon all our citizens the need to look beyond differences of race, class, creed and religion and to see ourselves first and foremost as Mauritians.
In fact, during the debate on the DNA Bill, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I made reference to the fact that 99.9% of our genes are the same, whether we are an Eskimo, a Japanese, an Indian, an African or an European. We fight on 0.1%. We think we are different. In fact, we are all human beings. That is why – I again say it – I impress on our citizens on the need to look beyond differences of race, class, creed or religion and to see ourselves first and foremost as Mauritians.
This is precisely the reason why on acceding to power in July 2005, we took a commitment to focus and reinforcing our multiculturalism, celebrating our diversity and promoting patriotism and national unity. We have accordingly been working hard to build a country where there are opportunities for all. In fact, we passed the Equal Opportunities Bill, the Commission is in the process of – the members are being named, it is always difficult to find the right people, but this is being named, probably this week, where we want to have these opportunities for all where economic success will be characterized by equity and social justice.
There are, Mr Deputy Speaker Sir, the conditions that we feel absolutely necessary for nationbuilding.
I am also informed that the Ministry of Youth and Sports organises regular programmes and activities such as the National Youth Achievement Award which comprise, inter alia, community service activities. The National Youth Council which was instituted in 1998 through an Act of Parliament has been involved in the organisation of several civic activities for youth club and organisations.
Furthermore, the Social Welfare Division of the Ministry of Social Security undertakes regular community actions in terms of training for community development with the assistance of NGOs. All these initiatives are precisely geared towards promoting citizenship values and nation-building.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, over and above the measures I have just enumerated, consideration is being given to the setting up – either we have to look at it carefully whether it should be a National Civil Defence or a National Civic Service. It is a National Civil Defence whether it should be a voluntary service in its initial stage, at least. I believe that such a service can provide a framework to reinforce national identity and social solidarity and at the same time link the rights and responsibilities that go with the privileges of being Mauritian. It must be clear that wherever you have rights you also have responsibilities.
Such schemes already exist in many countries in varying forms, may be slightly different in each country. We would carefully draw inspiration from these models to evolve one that would be suitable for our own social and economic realities. A number of issues will have to be addressed, for example, whether the scheme arrested should be voluntarily or compulsory, what could be the target age group, the duration of the service, the number of participants to be enrolled each year. All these will have to be looked into.
Experiences elsewhere have demonstrated that such a carefully designed Service can bring significant contribution in enhancing the civic consciousness of young adults and will help to build a stronger society characterised by understanding, respect and life long engagement.
I am therefore all in favour of the idea, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. In fact, I can say that preliminary discussions - because we have brainstormed the issue before - have already started at the level of the Ministry of Finance, involving several Ministries including the Attorney- General’s Office on the introduction of such a Service, whether, as I said, it should be a National Civil Defence or not.
We are also considering the advisability of seeking expertise from abroad in this endeavour.
Ms Deerpalsing: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to thank the hon. Prime Minister for his answer. Can I ask the hon. Prime Minister - I was thinking more for target group of people who are coming of age, that is, adults of 18 years old - whether before issuing ID cards to those at the age of 18, they could go for a programme at the end of which they would swear an oath of citizenship just to bind that civic consciousness? Can that be envisaged?
The Prime Minister: That is certainly something that we can envisage, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. Perhaps I should add that when people get their nationality, they apply for citizenship, especially foreigners who are taking the citizenship of Mauritius. I used to, in my first mandate, actually have a ceremony at Clarisse House and give them a copy of the Constitution and make them understand the importance that they have to be patriotic to the flag and to the country of Mauritius. I must say we haven’t done it recently because of time constraints. Maybe that is something again that I should restart doing.
Mr Lauthan: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the hon. Prime Minister has mentioned several Ministries. But I think he would agree that one of the main Ministries which could make a difference in inculcating the spirit of nation building would be the Ministry of Education. The hon. Prime Minister talked about young adults, but I think preventive action must be taken much arlier en amont. Will the Government be ready to review the curriculum at various levels to inculcate the right dosage of nation building elements?
The Prime Minister: I did not mention, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, all the Ministries because there are some Ministries, but certainly the Ministry of Education is very much involved. I think it has started the work. We need also to make sure that the young know the values that they have to have in life and this is very important because we see this is lacking. It is not just a question of going to school and passing an examination. You must know about the values that you need to have and to defend in this country, especially patriotic values and, as I said, being responsible citizens.
Mrs Labelle: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, in this spirit of building the nation, will the hon. Prime Minister consider the introduction of community service for our youngsters in the curriculum as it is the case in some private schools?
The Prime Minister: As I said, this is being considered already at the Ministry of Education.
Mr Bodha: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, in view of the fact that such a service will strengthen the sense of belonging, the sense of sharing, of equality, with a shared vision and a future, I think a lot would depend on the financial implications of such a project. May I ask the hon. Prime Minister whether this is being taken on board?
The Prime Minister: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, part of this has already been mentioned in our Manifesto and the Government-Programme and for something like a nation building, I don’t think we should look at the constraint of finance and this will have to be found.
Ms Deerpalsing: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, in light of the questions asked about education, may I ask the Prime Minister - when we talk about education, what we see today is that a lot of people are opting out of the public schools, for example, middle-class people - whether people of different various social classes can come together in one group instead of being in their own schools and going through that community service? I was thinking of bringing people of different classes and ethnic groups together so that they have a common experience in the community service that has been proposed.
The Prime Minister: I think that again is a very good suggestion, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. We need to make sure that people mingle together so that it will enhance this idea of all of us being Mauritians.
ADVISERS & PRESS ATTACHES – APPOINTMENT (21/07/09)
(No. B/869) Mr P. Jhugroo (Third Member for Port Louis North and Montagne Longue) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs whether, in regard to each of the Advisers and Press Attachés appointed by Government, since May 2008 to date, he will now state their respective –
(b) terms and conditions of appointment, indicating if same have been reviewed, following the Pay Research Bureau Report 2008, and, if so, table copy thereof, and
The Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir, I am tabling the information requested by the hon. Member.
In fact, from May 2008 to 15 July 2009, 39 Advisers have been recruited by the Government. The terms and conditions of their contractual appointment are determined by the Ministry of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms and Pay Research Bureau.
I wish to highlight, Mr Speaker, Sir, the fact that the total number of Advisers and Press Attachés appointed by this Government is 188, and this is far far less than the 277 Advisers/Press Attachés recruited during the period September 2000 to June 2005, and also I should point out, on terms and conditions, far more favourable than those of Senior Advisers recruited by this
Mr Jhugroo: Is the hon. Prime Minister aware that I have asked the same Parliamentary Question on 21 April 2009 and at as yesterday, the document has not yet been tabled?
The Prime Minister: This is precisely the document that I am tabling. I told the hon. Member that the information is being tabled.
Mr Jhugroo: Can the hon. Prime Minister confirm whether the reply I got was 175 advisers and he mentioned….
Mr Speaker: Please listen, hon. Jhugroo! I am sorry, once again, I have to draw the attention of hon. Members that they must know what questions they put. If a question has been put and the reply has been given, you cannot ask the hon. Prime Minister to confirm the answer he has given to the House.
Mr Jhugroo: Mr Speaker, Sir, I want to draw the attention of the hon. Prime Minister.
Mr Speaker: The hon. Member cannot, at Question Time, make comments, etc. The Standing Orders are clear. Please read the Standing Orders on questions. Question time is to ask for information.
Mr Jhugroo: Can the hon. Prime Minister confirm that the figure given on the 21 of April has increased today from 175 to 188?
Mr Speaker: That is clear. It was 175 and it is 188. It is clear that it has increased.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS - VIOLENCE AND CHILD ABUSE – PROGRAMME (21/07/09)
(No. B/909) Mrs F. Labelle (Third Member for Vacoas & Floreal) asked the Minister of Women’s Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare whether, in regard to the collaborative programmes of her Ministry to combat violence and child abuse, she will –
(a) give a list of the Non-Governmental Organisations involved, indicating their -
(i) respective programmes;
(ii) target audiences;
(iii) duration of the programmes, and
(b) state the amount of money spent on each.
Mrs Seebun: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to inform the House that my Ministry works in close collaboration with NGOs to address the problems of domestic violence and child abuse.
As regards to domestic violence, my Ministry intervenes directly and undertakes preventive measures. These measures include sensitisation programmes which are conducted in collaboration with NGOs to create awareness among the public at large on issues related to domestic violence.
In addition to that, my Ministry equally works with Community-Based Organisations through the Zero Tolerance Clubs with a view to involving the community to combat domestic violence. Members of these Clubs act as watchdogs to ensure that their respective localities are violence free. To date, five Zero Tolerance Clubs are operational, namely at Abercombie, Goodlands, Mare D’Albert, Pointe-Aux-Sables and Montagne Blanche.
Over and above the specific programmes with NGOs, my Ministry is also working with other NGOs, such as NATReSA, PILS, and Victim Support in our ongoing awareness programmes against alcoholism, sexually transmitted diseases and domestic violence. Through these awareness programmes, we are also targeting youths to enable them to adopt a culture of non-violence.
I would like to invite the attention of the hon. Member that many programmes initiated by my Ministry are meant to empower the umbrella organisations such as MACOSS and Council of Religions so that they may trickle down the programmes and awareness campaigns to their member organisations.
This process enables my Ministry to sensitise a larger audience.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, concerning child abuse, the assistance of NGOs is sought to provide residential care to children victims of ill-treatment, abandonment, destitute or otherwise exposed to harm. Where a child is found at risk of harm, he or she is immediately placed at the shelter of my Ministry on a temporarily basis. Arrangements are thereafter made to commit the child in a residential care institution which has been declared as a place of safety following the issue of a Court Order.
Institutions which are providing accommodationa and care to children are being paid an all inclusive daily grant of Rs211.94 per head.
I wish to inform the House that the duration of the stay of the children at these institutions depends upon the Committal Order/Interim Committal Order issued by Court.
With a view to combating child abuse, my Ministry is also working with the National Children Council (NCC) to conduct sensitisation campaigns on the issue of child abuse. From July 2005 to date, 690 campaigns have been carried out in schools, colleges and youth clubs reaching out 11,820 children. For the period July 2009 to December 2009, the NCC is planning to conduct further sensitisation campaign in 35 schools and colleges targeting some 3,500 children.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, with regard to part (a) of the question I wish to inform the House that since July 2005, we have undertaken specific programmes to combat domestic violence with six NGOs, namely -
(a) Mauritius Family Planning and Welfare Association;
(b) Mauritius Alliance of Women;
(c) Media Watch Organisation;
(d) MACOSS in collaboration with Aryan Women Welfare Association;
(e) Council of Religions, and
(f) Indian Ocean Centre for Education in Human Values.
In addition, as concerns child abuse, there are 12 institutions which are assisting my Ministry in providing accommodation and care to children who are victims of abuse and neglect.
These institutions are –
(a) Terre de Paix;
(b) Foyer Père Laval;
(c) Foyer Monseigneur Leen;
(d) SOS Village for Children Mauritius (Beau Bassin);
(e) SOS Village for Children Mauritius (Bambous);
(f) CEDEM (Floreal);
(g) CEDEM (Hollyrood);
(h) Crèche Coeur Immaculée De Marie;
(i) Gayasing Ashram;
(j) Mauritius Muslim Orphanage;
(k) Association D’Hébergement pour les Personnes Inadaptées, and
(l) Shelter for Women and Children in Distress Trust Fund (Forest-Side).
My Ministry has also set up Participatory Advisory Committees (PACs) that operate at the level of the 15 women centres across the island. The aim of the PACs is to provide a platform for members of the community to work together to identify priority areas of intervention, formulate action plans and secure partnerships for interventions that would improve the livelihoods of the community at large.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am tabling before the House a list of NGOs, the programmes they are implementing, their target audiences and the duration of these programmes.
With regard to part (b) of the Question, as from July 2005 to date, a total amount of Rs1,059,622.22 has been disbursed in respect of programmes to combat domestic violence and an amount of Rs30,761,630.20 has been paid to NGOs providing residential care to children who are victims of abuse. Furthermore, for the period of July 2009 to December 2009, a sum of Rs730,000 has been earmarked for programmes to combat domestic violence and an amount of Rs6.9 m. has been earmarked for NGOs providing residential care to children victims of abuse. I am tabling the details of the amounts spent on each programme as from 2005 to date.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, can I ask the Minister whether she has got the figures concerning children who have been victims of abuse, who have been placed in shelters and who, ultimately, have found a place in a permanent residence or in a foyer somewhere during the past year?
The Deputy Speaker: Unless the Minister needs notice of the question.
Mrs Seebun: Sure, I need notice, but this is the current exercise. The hon. Member is much aware of it.
The Deputy Speaker: So, we’ll come to the substantive question.
Mrs Seebun: Later I can give details to the hon. Member.
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Mrs Labelle, you have a few questions!
Mrs Labelle: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. The hon. Minister has given a very long reply but, unfortunately, the specific answer I was expecting will be circulated. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, in this House, some weeks back, it was after Committee of Supply, the hon. Minister mentioned a specific programme to combat violence and she mentioned collaborative programmes. So, this is what I asked for. I was not asking for the institutions who were receiving grants as Foyer Père Laval and so on and so forth, but I want to know whether there are any NGOs which are working with the Ministry with a specific programme to combat violence and child abuse. If there is such programme, which audience is being targeted and so on and so forth? This was my question. I don’t know whether the hon. Minister has an answer to this.
Mrs Seebun: Sure, I have an answer, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. All the six plus twelve institutions I mentioned are aggressively working to combat child abuse and domestic violence.
This is why I am giving details of all the programmes which the hon. Member and other Members can have a look.
CHILDREN – SEXUAL ABUSE – COURT PROCEDURES (21/07/09)
(No. B/916) Mrs S. Hanoomanjee (Second Member for Savanne & Black River) asked the Attorney-General whether, in regard to children under the age of ten and who have been abused sexually, he will state the procedures adopted for them to depone in court.
HIGH LEVEL ATHLETES – HANDICAPPED – ASSISTANCE (21/07/09)
(No. B/925) Mr J. R. Speville (Second Member for Rodrigues) asked the Minister of Youth & Sports whether, in regard to the athletes who have performed at national and international levels and who have become disabled or severely handicapped, following injuries sustained in accidents inside or outside the playfield, he will state -
(a) the number thereof, and
(b) if he is aware of the case of one Ms G. G. who had represented Mauritius in Judo at national and international levels and who is presently handicapped and, if so, if any assistance will be extended to her.
Mr Ritoo: Mr Deputy Speaker Sir, there is no records available at the Sports Medical Unit of my Ministry regarding any athlete who has become disabled or severely handicapped following participation in sports. However, I am aware of one athlete residing in Rodrigues, namely Ms Marie Noelle Ravina, who was, long back, hurt by a javelin in Rodrigues, and which was the cause of her handicap.
As regards part (b), I am aware that Ms Glorieuse Guillaume was a high level athlete who won a Gold Medal in Judo at the Indian Ocean Islands Games in 1993 and thereafter became the vice champion of Africa in the same discipline.
I am informed that Ms Glorieuse Guillaume was hurt during the Indian Ocean Islands Games in Reunion in 1998 and sustained a leg injury. After the IOIG 1998, she stopped practising Judo and was employed by the Judo Federation.
In 2003, she opted for the practice of weightlifting and even participated in the Indian Ocean Islands Games 2003 in Mauritius.
I understand that the former athlete is now disabled and is a beneficiary of financial assistance from the Ministry of Social Security.
The Office of the President has transmitted to my Ministry a letter from Father Michel Boullé, who has appealed for additional social benefits on behalf of the former athlete.
The Ministry of Social Security has been requested to favourably consider the request.
Mr Spéville: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, is the hon. Minister aware that Miss Guillaume, who is now residing at Dagotière, has been living in Mauritius for the last 20 years and that she is fully handicapped? She is receiving Rs1,123 and has to pay Rs1,400 as housing. She also has to pay electricity, water, food and everything. Is the hon. Minister aware that since February 2008 this girl is living in that condition?
Mr Ritoo: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am aware of the case of Miss Guillaume. In fact, she is not staying at Dagotière, but at Pointe aux Canonniers. She is indebted heavily. The Ministry made an appeal to the Trust Fund for Excellence in Sports to help the athlete after she was hurt. Its Board exceptionally agreed to pay her arrears on rent for seven months to an amount of nearly Rs10,000 to the NHDC Co. Ltd., though this does not fall within its mandate and objectives.
Mr Spéville: The hon. Minister just said that Miss Guillaume is residing at Pointe aux Canonniers. In fact, last night I visited her; she is living with a friend at Pointe aux Canonniers because she is undertaking treatment at the SSR Hospital, which means that she cannot move from Dagotière which is so far. The address on the CEB bill and Water bill state; Mrs Guillaume, Résidence L’Assurance, D14, NHDC Complex Dagotière, Royal Road. That is the real address.
The NHDC has just sent her a letter for the arrears as from 03 February 2009 for Rs9,240. If she does not pay that amount, they will have to entertain legal action against her. From my information, Miss Guillaume does not have this money. As I said, she has just gone to Pointe aux Canonniers, because she is actually on treatment at the SSR Hospital. So, my request - and hers also – to the hon. Minister is: is it possible for Miss Guillaume to have a carer’s allowance from the Social Security, because she is staying with friends at Pointe aux Canonniers? Is it possible for her to be treated as a beneficiary of BIP (Basic Invalidity Pension), because now she is treated as a beneficiary of Social Aid of Rs1,123. She is living on her own in Mauritius; her parents are in Rodrigues. For 20 years, she has been doing sports and, as the hon. Minister just said, she has had a long career in Judo. I think Miss Guillaume is in real distress right now.
Mr Ritoo: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I take note of all these issues. I just want to inform the hon. Member that, in fact, she owed an amount of Rs15,000 to the NHDC. I will make a request to the Minister of the Social Security to see whether she can increase the social aid assistance and see the possibility of intervening for the loan that she is owing to the NHDC.
Mrs Labelle: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, my question was whether this lady was receiving Social Aid or BIP, because it seems that she is not actually receiving a BIP. May be the hon. Minister can confirm whether this lady is receiving a BIP or Social Aid?
Mr Ritoo: It should be Social Aid normally. I will check it.
Mr Lauthan: The Minister has been a sports person himself. This is a very sympathetic case and, maybe, under the National Solidarity Fund we can give her a one-off substantial amount.
Mr Ritoo: I have taken note. In fact, we have paid the sum that she owed previously, i.e. Rs10,000, to the NHDC. We made an appeal to the High Level Sports Unit to pay that amount. We will try to see to what extent we can intervene with the Ministry of Social Security and other Departments.
Mrs Perrier: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, does the Minister not feel that it should be the duty of the Government, through his Ministry, to help this person? She has been the pride of Mauritius for years and now she is just let down with a Social Aid. It does not fit. Will the Government look into the possibility to help these athletes who have served Mauritius, now that they are handicapped and cannot care for themselves?
Mr Ritoo: I think that is what we have been discussing so far, because even if is through the Social Security or any Unit in my Ministry, the Government is helping her.
The Deputy Speaker: Last question, hon. Mrs Labelle!
Mrs Labelle: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. May we ask the hon. Minister whether this athlete was under a particular insurance cover, because from what I have just gathered, she has been injured while practising this sport? Was there a particular insurance cover for this athlete?
Mr Ritoo: Normally, every athlete who participates and practises any discipline is supposed to be covered through an insurance cover by the Federation.
In fact, she was injured in 1997 while training at the Royal College of Port Louis and she was given all due attention through the hospital and the Medical Unit. But, she was insured.
The Deputy Speaker: Last question, hon. Spéville!
Mr Spéville: The hon. Minister just said that she was insured, but from my information, since Miss Guillaume was injured in 2007 at the gymnasium, she has not received any insurance cover and that is why she left Judo and started working on her own. And now, as I said, she is really in a mess and I am really sad for her.
I am making a plea to the Minister and to the Ministry of Social Security to come to a real figure to get her out of where she is now.
Mr Ritoo: I will try to see with the Federation.
CHILD ABUSE CASES (20/10/09)
(No. B/969) Mrs S. Grenade (Second Member for GRNW & Port Louis West) asked the Minister of Women’s Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare whether, in regard to cases of child abuse, she will obtain from the Child Protection Unit, information as to the number of reported cases thereof since 2007 to date, indicating the actions taken by her Ministry and the Unit in connection therewith.
Mrs Seebun: Mr Speaker, Sir, the number of cases of child abuse reported to the Child Development Unit of my Ministry for the past three years is as follows –
(a) 2007 3,523
(b) 2008 3,397
(c) 2009 (Jan to Sept) 3,663
Mr Speaker, Sir, I would like to inform the House that as soon as a case of child abuse is reported to my Ministry, a first-hand assessment of the situation followed by a site visit is effected by officers posted at the Family Support Bureaux covering the locality to ascertain whether the child is in immediate danger and needs to be removed from his/her living environment.
Where the child is found to be in immediate danger, the District Magistrate is informed and an application for an Emergency Protection Order (EPO) is made in accordance with section 4 of the Child Protection Act. The child is thereafter sent to a place of safety under the responsibility of my Ministry. Psychological and medical support are provided by psychologists of my Ministry and medical officers of the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life.
Moreover, as regards cases of sexual abuse where the parents are the perpetrators or are refusing to give support to the victim, the latter is immediately removed to a place of safety. In such cases, officers of my Ministry assist in the recording of the statements of the victims and accompany them for medical examination and for spot reconstruction, if the need arises.
Follow-up is ensured by the officers and necessary support services are provided to the victims for their rehabilitation and reinsertion into their family and society.
Mr Speaker, Sir, I would like to reassure the House that my Ministry is very concerned about cases of child abuse and a 24-hour on call service is provided to attend to emergency cases.
A Protocol of Assistance in respect of assistance to victims of sexual assault between my Ministry, the Police Department and the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life is also put in place whereby rapid service through first hand counselling, assistance in recording of statement, medical examination and intervention is ensured.
Mr Speaker, Sir, in addition to this, my Ministry has embarked on a forceful sensitisation campaign whereby children are made aware of their rights and are empowered to voice out any attempt of abuse or violence that may have been perpetrated on them by relatives, teachers or friends.
These Information, Education and Communication campaigns are carried out jointly by my Ministry and the National Children’s Council not only for children but also for parents, teachers, police officers, NGOs and the Civil Society who have an important role to play in combating child abuse.
Mr Speaker, Sir, my Ministry has also initiated a series of other measures to curb the problem of child abuse and these include -
(1) The National Parental Empowerment Programme whereby parents are equipped with appropriate skills so that they are empowered to manage their
(2) The Child Mentoring Programme.
(3) A Joint Monitoring Committee and a common Plan of Action with the Brigade des Mineurs in view of implementing –
(a) crackdown operations in high risks areas, and
(b) surprise checks and visits in guest houses, boarding houses and pensionnats.
It is to be noted that since January 2008 to date, 498 crackdown operations have been effected.
(4) The Community Child Protection Programme which is a formal forum set up district-wise trickling down to grassroots so as to ensure community development with respect to children protection and welfare.
(5) The Foster Care System which aims at providing the opportunity to children victims of abuse and/or neglect to live in a substitute family.
(6) The setting-up of a Drop-in-Centre at Bell Village to provide specialised services with a view to ensuring the recovery and rehabilitation of victims of Commercial and Sexual Exploitation of Children. My Ministry will also be proceeding with the laying of the foundation stone for the construction of a Residential Drop-in-Centre at Grand River North West next month.
(7) The provision of care and accommodation to children victims of abuse and neglect in Residential Care Institutions run by Non-Government Organisations which have been declared as a place of safety.
Mr Speaker, Sir, in addition to these programmes, my Ministry has also amended the Child Protection Act in December 2005 to make provision for all cases of child trafficking, abandonment and abduction to be dealt with by officers responsible for child welfare and development. Tougher penalties have also been provided for in case of contravention of the provisions of the law.
Furthermore, my Ministry is coming up with a Consolidated Children’s Bill, which the Prime Minister himself is very keen at and it aims at domesticating the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to ensure promotion of the rights and protection of children in a consistent, coherent and holistic manner.
Mrs Grenade: Mr Speaker, Sir, the number mentioned by the hon. Minister is very alarming. May I know the timeframe allocated for the protection of these abused children and for their follow up?
Mrs Seebun: There is no specific timeframe for recovery as it is dealt on a case to case basis and on the gravity of the abuse. Some may take a short time for a few psychological sessions and some may take a very long time. So, we cannot just generalise it.
Mrs Grenade: Mr Speaker, Sir, in November 2008, the hon. Minister mentioned in PQ No. B/1200 that as a preventive programme, there is a regular awareness campaign in primary and secondary schools. May I know from the hon. Minister the number of primary and secondary schools which have been covered up to now?
Mrs Seebun: I do not have the exact figures right now; maybe I can give it to the hon. Member later during the day.
Mrs Labelle: Mr Speaker, Sir, the hon. Minister has mentioned a series of measures, but true it is, despite of the measures, that the number is increasing.
May I ask the hon. Minister whether she has made an evaluation of the measures implemented since she is in office and what has been the conclusion, if ever, such evaluation has been made?
Mrs Seebun: At my Ministry’s level certainly we are carrying out an evaluation to ensure that child abuse is not on the increase.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Speaker Sir, in view of the increasing number of cases of child abuse, will the hon. Minister say whether there are specific units or at least a small private room which has been set up in some hospitals where a child victim of abuse can at least be examined in all discretion by the Police Medical Officer, receive psychological treatment and receive medical treatment at the same time and, if so, will she say in what hospitals these units have been set up?
Mrs Seebun: In all the main hospitals we do have a special ward. We have, in fact, put up a protocol with the Police and the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life to ensure that children, victims of abuse, are treated differently. They do not go to the Casualty.
Mr Ganoo: Mr Speaker, Sir, the hon. Minister has given us the figures of the child abuses for the past three years. From these figures, if one makes a rapid calculation, it means that every day about eight children have been abused in this country for the past three years.
Can I ask the hon. Minister whether she has the figures of the number of cases for each of the three years referred for prosecution and where successful conviction has been secured?
Mrs Seebun: Unfortunately, I do not have it at hand, but I can certainly give it. This is referred to the court and it normally takes time.
Mr Speaker: If the hon. Minister does not have the answer, she has just to say that she that she needs notice of the question.
Mr Dowarkasing: Mr Speaker Sir, the hon. Minister has given figures about the number of child abuses. Can I know from those figures how many incest cases are there?
How is the child abuse issue being tackled with the Ombudsperson’s Office?
Mrs Seebun: We work in close collaboration with the Ombudsperson’s Office and we have a common plan of action. Of course, the Ombudsperson is equally concerned.
Mr Mohamed: Mr Speaker, Sir, I would like to ask the hon. Minister with regard to the figures of child abuse that she has referred to in the answer, is there an increase in the number of children being abused or is it because there is an awareness that more are coming forward and more are being detected and it is not an increase in the number of being abuse.
The distinction should be made.
Mrs Seebun: Mr Speaker, Sir, I thank the hon. Member and this is actually the case.
We are encouraging children to come and voice out if they are victims of abuse. This is why we are getting more cases to attend to.
Mrs Martin: Thank you Mr Speaker, Sir, the hon. Minister was asked about the number of incest cases and she did not reply to it. But I wanted to ask in relation with that question, since she mentioned that children are threatened within their natural environment, their homes themselves, whether she has the average number or the figure of the number of children who have been removed from their immediate environment within that period of time frame that she has given?
Mrs Seebun: I do not have the exact figure.
Mrs Navarre-Marie: Thank you Mr Speaker, Sir, does not the hon. Minister think that one of the main causes of this problem is the lack of parental skills. Will the hon. Minister state what measures are being taken by her Ministry to educate parents on such issues?
Mrs Seebun: Mr Speaker, Sir, the Parental Empowerment Programme has recently been put in place and it is giving its results.
Mr Speaker: Next question, hon. Mrs Grenade!
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS – COUNSELLING UNITS (23/03/10)
(No. B/50) Mrs F. Labelle (Third Member for Vacoas & Floreal) asked the Minister of Education, Culture and Human Resources whether, in regard to the counselling units of the primary and secondary schools, he will state the number thereof, if any, which are operational, indicating the -
(a) names of the schools, and
(b) number of psychologists or counsellors attached thereto.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the National Education Counselling Service (NECS) of my Ministry which is under the responsibility of a Senior Educational Psychologist and supported by ten Educational Psychologists and 18 Educational Social Workers, provides guidance and counselling as well as psychological and social support services to the pre-primary, primary and secondary schoolchildren needing individual and special attention.
With regard to the primary schools, there are no counselling units as such attached specially to them, but the Educational Psychologists and Educational Social Workers are posted at the four Zonal Directorates and to cater for the individual and specific needs of school children. They respond to individual requests from Heads of School, Teachers and parents regarding specific children needing psychological support. Such requests may also come from institutions like the Ministry for Women’s Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare, the Ombudsperson for Children Office or the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life in respect of schoolchildren.
Further, for children with special educational needs, the Educational Psychologists and Educational Social Workers of the NECS also conduct school visits and counselling sessions are also held on a case-to-case basis on request.
As for the secondary sector, counselling units are found in 33 State Secondary Schools that have been profiled for provision of such services. However, the pool of Psychologists and Counsellors also caters for the other schools on a cluster basis zone wise.
As far as private secondary schools are concerned, Managers of private secondary schools may avail themselves of the services of Educational Psychologists of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Human Resources who are posted to the four Educational Zones.
The Minister of Education, Culture and Human Resources (Dr. V. Bunwaree): (30/03/10)
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I do not propose to move today for the Second Readings of -
(i) The Arabic-Speaking Union Bill (No. II of 2010);
(ii) The Bhojpuri-Speaking Union Bill (No. III of 2010);
(iii) The Creole-Speaking Union Bill (No. IV of 2010), and
(iv) The Mandarin-Speaking Union Bill (No. V of 2010).
CHILDREN – STUNTING (22/06/10)
(No. B/109) Mr S. Obeegadoo (Third Member for Curepipe and Midlands) asked the Minister of Health and Quality of Life whether, in regard to children under the age of five, she will state the percentage thereof suffering from severe or moderate stunting.
Reply: I wish to inform the House that the percentage of severe or moderate stunting among children under 5 years can be obtained only through a specific survey. So far two surveys had been carried out in 1985 and 1995. These surveys revealed the following -
(i) the prevalence of severe stunting among 0-5 years old children was 8.9% in 1985 compared to 2.5% in 1995; whereas
(ii) the prevalence of moderate stunting in the same group of children was 12.6% in 1985 and 7.1% in 1995.
Stunting is caused by chronic malnutrition. After the 1985 survey, a Nutritional Surveillance System was set up by the Nutrition Unit of my Ministry to monitor the growth of children under 5 years.
This resulted in the significant improvement in the percentage of severe and moderate stunting shown by the 1995 survey.
Chronic malnutrition, and therefore stunting, is no longer an issue in Mauritius.
SCHOOL BUSES AND VANS (PRIVATE) – ACCIDENTS (06/07/10)
(No. 1A/8) Mr D. Nagalingum (Second Member for Stanley & Rose Hill) asked the Minister of Public Infrastructure, National Development Unit, Land Transport and Shipping whether, in regard to private school buses and vans, he will, for the period 2005 to-date, state -
(a) the number of registered vehicles, and
(b) the number involved in road accidents, indicating the number of casualties
Reply: The Road Traffic Act does not specifically provide for the registration of private school buses and vans. However, the number of registered vehicles operating under a PSV (contract bus) licence for the conveyance of students is as follows –
The Commissioner of Police has informed that since year 2005 to date, seven, seven accidents involving private school buses/vans have been reported to the Police. Eleven children were injured and one died following those accidents.
A breakdown of cases is as follows –
Year No. of accidents No. of casualties
2005 2 1
2006 - -
2007 2 9 injured + 1 fatal
2008 2 1 injured
2009 - -
As at 04 July 2010 1 1 injured
OBESITY – SURVEY (17/08/10)
(No. 1B/483) Mr S. Dayal (Third Member for Quartier Militaire & Moka) asked the Minister of Health and Quality of Life whether, in regard to obesity, she will state if a study has been carried out to make an assessment of the number of people who will suffer therefrom by the year 2020, indicating the measures that have been put in place to address the issue, as at to date.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the National NCD Survey 2009 carried out by my Ministry indicated that the prevalence of obesity was 43.3% in the Mauritian adult population aged 25-74 years. The prevalence of obesity was 38.4% in men and 47.9% in women.
My Ministry has taken the following measures, amongst others, to address the issue of obesity -
• a National Plan of Action for Nutrition 2009-2010 is in the process of implementation;
• appropriate regulations have been passed to control the sale of food items in school canteens, as per guidelines prepared by the Nutrition Division of the Ministry;
• sale of soft drinks in all pre-primary, primary and secondary school institutions has been banned;
• comprehensive screening programmes for risk factors of NCDs, including obesity, are being carried out regularly through the mobile clinics for their early detection and prevention at schools, worksites and the community at large;
• people are encouraged to undertake physical activities. My Ministry has set up health clubs, and is in the process of setting more health tracks for this purpose;
• a National Action Plan on Physical Activities is being prepared;
• a ‘Know your number’ campaign to sensitise the adult population about their weight is being implemented, and
• lastly, there is an ongoing campaign to sensitise the population at large on the risk factor for NCDs, including obesity.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, WHO’s latest projections indicate that, globally in 2005, at least 400 million adults were obese, and this will nearly double to reach more than 700 million by 2015.
No study has been carried out so far to make an assessment of the number of people who will suffer from obesity by the year 2020. However, my Ministry is proposing to approach the WHO for technical support to undertake such a study.
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, as regards the ban on fizzy drinks in schools, will the hon. Minister liaise with the Minister of Education to see to it that not only are such drinks not sold, but that parents be sensitised and that children be not allowed to bring those drinks to be consumed during school hours?
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, when that programme was put in place, there were discussions, in fact, with the Ministry of Education, and I believe that the Ministry of Education is monitoring the issue closely.
Mr Dayal: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, on 18 April 2006, I put a similar question, namely No. B/293, whereby I asked whether a study is being carried out to determine the risk of young children becoming obese. In some countries like America, as I mentioned some time back, about one third of the school children and two thirds of the adults population are obese. Here, it is a little less than two thirds. So, it is about time that the study be carried out. Can I know from the hon. Minister whether something concrete is being done to carry out the study and to remedy the situation, and whether she envisages having a follow-up?
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the hon. Member is saying that the reply was given in 2006, and I cannot reply for this. But I can say that I am taking up the issue and, in fact, I have contacted WHO already, and we are now in the process of trying to find out whether we can get consultancy from them on this matter.
Mr Dayal: I did not mean to hit at the Minister, because I know that she has been newly appointed as Minister. But, being given that this is of national interest, that’s why I have put the question. It shows my interest, because since 2006 I am following this dossier, and that is why I am asking this question. Is something concrete being done in this direction?
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I have already replied to this question.
Mr Obeegadoo: Sir, the Minister will surely agree that this is as a real threat to our youth. Will she agree to look urgently at the new guidelines being issued by the OEDC these days to ban a number of products consumed by children for eventual implementation in Mauritius?
Mrs Hanoomanjee: The Nutrition Division of my Ministry is looking into this, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir.
Mrs Labelle: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the hon. Minister has mentioned health clubs.
May I ask her how many such clubs do we have, and how do members of the public get access to them? To whom are they opened, and how are they operating?
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, there are seven health clubs, where there are physical exercise equipments, and people come for yoga, aerobics and physical exercises. I can give the hon. Member a list of the places where there are the Health Clubs. These are: St Pierre Area Health Centre, Roches Noires, Nouvelle France, Camp de Masque Pavé, Wooton Health Club, Bambous Virieux and Flacq Health Club. There are 56 health places where facilities are being given. I can circulate the list. On top of that, at the level of the Youth Centres, there are the Health Clubs.
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the other side of the coin is, of course, the need for a sports culture in this country. Will the hon. Minister liaise with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and the Ministry of Education and Human Resources to see to it that, firstly, sports infrastructure, which should have been completed in schools since 2005, are completed at the earliest? Secondly, that physical education in secondary schools stops being taught as a theoretical subject on the blackboard and examined with theoretical examinations, and that instead children be encouraged to play and to practice sports, and, thirdly, that sports facilities in schools be placed at the disposal of the wider community outside school hours, as was Government practice previously.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, there is already a standing Committee with the Ministry of Education which is looking into this aspect, but I will take the suggestions of the hon. Member.
Mr Dayal: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, can I ask the hon. Minister whether she considers the advisability of setting up a Public Health Laboratory, dedicated for this and similar purposes, which can be automated and results computerised? This can give updated reliable medical data on the whole population and may replace many of the surveys that have been currently carried out to document the prevalence of these risks and conditions in the population.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, at this point in time, I don’t think I can take this commitment because all this will depend on the level of funds being provided for such purposes.
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, given the seriousness of the situation as pointed out, will the hon. Minister agree that there is a need for a new imaginative mass sensitisation campaign, using the mass media concerning nutritional habits in Mauritius which are now being made worse by recourse to fast food, especially among children?
Mrs Hanoomanjee: In fact, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, we have dedicated the month of September for this purpose.
CHILD POVERTY – MEASURES (29/03/11)
(No. B/66) Ms S. Anquetil (Fourth Member for Vacoas & Floreal) asked the vice- Prime Minister, Minister of Social Integration and Economic Empowerment whether, in regard to child poverty, he will state if a study has been carried out to assess the number of children living in -
(a) absolute poverty, and
(b) households with no income earnings and, if so, indicate the measures Government proposes to take to assist them.
The vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Social Integration and Economic Empowerment (Mr X. L. Duval): Mr Speaker, Sir, as the House may be aware, the well-being and development of vulnerable children are high on the agenda of Government and constitute a priority for my Ministry and the National Empowerment Foundation.
Much attention is being devoted to the subject by my Ministry and a whole panoply of facilities and programmes have been devised at the level of the NEF, to support the cognitive and non-cognitive development of deprived and vulnerable children.
The support of all stakeholders, be they community institutions, NGOs, Force Vives and CSR companies have been enlisted to ensure effective implementation at grassroots level.
Mr Speaker, Sir, as my reply is extensive and lengthy, I propose with your permission to table it.
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Speaker, Sir, this question refers specifically to child poverty.
When we know that the last survey by the CSO revealed that 45% of people qualified as poor in this country are below the age of 20, will he tell us as a fact whether the research institute that he talked about setting up some time back, headed by a young gentleman returning from France, has looked into child poverty as a priority, so that measures are taken to address this problem?
Mr Duval: Mr Speaker, Sir, as I have said - and I have said this many, many times – the issue of child poverty is central to the policy of my Ministry and to Government. In this respect, we have carried out a survey in all the pockets of poverty, of all poor families. It depends what you describe as poor. Poor is a word, you have to describe it and set the parameters. For our Ministry, we calculate that the absolute poor families should earn a maximum of Rs5,000, excluding social aid, etc. We have identified some 5,000 families under the poverty line living in pockets of poverty, excluding families scattered around the country. We are identifying now the scattered families, and this will give us exactly the number of poor children. At the moment, we know that in the pockets of poverty there are above 9,000 children living in families with income below the poverty line.
Mr Obeegadoo: Whatever the definition of poor we adopt, the official figures of the CSO tell us that single parent families with small children are the most affected. May we know whether his Ministry has so far recommended any measure in terms of reviewing existing social benefits to support young children stuck in poverty, especially in single parent families headed by women?
Mr Duval: Mr Speaker, Sir, as I mentioned, there is a whole panoply of things that we are doing for children, and that is fairly lengthy. I would advise the hon. Member to read what we have to set out in my written answer, and then to come up with any questions with great pleasure. What we are trying to do basically is to break the cycle of poverty. As regards social benefits, that is more a question for my colleague.
Dr. S. Boolell: Mr Speaker, Sir, I would like to know from the hon. vice-Prime Minister whether his study includes the street children which have no family, and does he have the statistics available for the street children?
Mr Duval: Street children in Mauritius, Mr Speaker, Sir, are not street children that you may have overseas. The majority of street children are just street children during the day. They usually have somewhere to sleep at night, but just wander around during the day. There are policies; there are NGOs which are being funded through CSR, etc, to deal with street children.
Mrs Navarre-Marie: Mr Speaker, Sir, will the hon. Minister review the cases of orphan students who are above the age of 18?
Mr Duval: Yes, I will look at it.
Mr Uteem: Is the hon. vice-Prime Minister aware that, up to now, in various parts of the island, children have not received school materials that are usually distributed every year?
Mr Duval: Yes, but it has always been the case that school materials which concern some 20,000 children are not distributed on the same day; they are distributed all through the year. What I can say this year is that we will finish much earlier than last year.
CHILDREN - DIABETES – MEASURES (29/03/11)
(No. B/67) Ms Anquetil (Fourth Member for Vacoas & Floreal) asked the Minister of Health and Quality of Life whether, in regard to diabetes, she will state the number of children suffering therefrom, indicating -
(a) if screening and early detection of diabetes are carried out on children;
(b) the number of hospital admissions of children for diabetic conditions, and
(c) the measures and policies she proposes to take, together will all the stakeholders, to provide additional assistance to pupils with Type 1 diabetes in schools.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Speaker, Sir, according to health records, 121 children, that is, those aged less than 18 years old, are currently following treatment for diabetes in Government hospitals.
With regard to part (a) of the question, I wish to point out that, under the School Health Programme implemented by my Ministry, students of Std I and Std V in primary schools and those in Form III and Lower VI in secondary schools undergo a general medical examination every year. Furthermore, the students who are found to be at risk of diabetes, namely those who are obese and have a family history of diabetes, are referred to health centres and hospitals for confirmatory tests, further investigations and counselling.
As regards part (b) of the question, the number of children, that is, those in the age group 0-18 years who were admitted for diabetic conditions in Government hospitals in 2010, was 60.
Concerning part (c) of the question, I wish to highlight that my Ministry is already working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, as well as Non Governmental Organisations, in order to provide support to children suffering from diabetes.
In this respect, my Ministry is already providing counselling and support to students with known Type 1 diabetes under the School Health Programme. In addition, I have to add that children with Type 1 diabetes are now provided with the latest insulin analogues, glucose meters and test strips. Besides, they are seen and counselled in each Regional Hospital by a team comprising Paediatricians, Nurses and Psychologists as required. Additional support is also provided to the children through the NCD Secretariat in each hospital, in terms of nutrition counselling and proper techniques of insulin injection.
Mr Speaker, Sir, my Ministry also organised an open day at the Diabetes and Vascular Health Centre Souillac for all Type 1 Diabetes patients in July 2010. Some 89 patients, mostly children, from all over the island along with their parents attended the open day. The programme consisted of education on Type 1 diabetes, healthy lifestyle, foot care, insulin therapy and blood glucose monitoring as well as measurements of height and weight and visual acuity, blood and urine tests, dental and foot care and retinal screening.
Another open day is planned for this year in August 2011 where emphasis will be laid on assistance which each stakeholder will have to provide to children suffering from diabetic conditions.
Furthermore, with a view to empowering teachers to provide appropriate support to pupils with Type 1 diabetes in schools, a training workshop will be organised in August 2011 for teachers having students with Type 1 Diabetes.
Ms Anquetil: Mr Speaker, Sir, being given that the children with Type 1 diabetes need injections to manage their conditions and are too small to administer them themselves, can the hon. Minister inform the House if her Ministry may consider to provide a full-time qualified nurse from Health Centres for every primary school with children with diabetes to support them?
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Speaker, Sir, I think this is a very tall order. In view of the staff situation that we have, it will be very difficult for us to provide each school with nursing assistance.
Ms Anquetil: Mr Speaker, Sir, for emergency cases during school days, can the hon. Minister inform the House if her Ministry may propose training to teachers and support staff to administer insulin injections?
Mrs Hanoomanjee: I have just said in my reply, Mr Speaker, Sir, that training is planned for teachers; we are empowering teachers to provide appropriate support to pupils with Type 1 diabetes.
Dr. S. Boolell: Mr Speaker, Sir, along the same lines of the hon. Member, I would like to ask the hon. Minister whether she could consider providing a special type of syringe, a pen set which is a type of gadget which helps better, that the child can actually use instead of a syringe which needs to be filled.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: In fact, Mr Speaker, Sir, this is being considered actually by medical specialists.
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Speaker, Sir, the figures are alarming and the key, of course, is prevention. Is the hon. Minister in a position to tell us whether there is any monitoring of Government policy on school canteens, especially food sellers from outside who come and provide inappropriate food to children?
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Speaker, Sir, I believe this is already ongoing.
TRUST FUND FOR THE SOCIAL INTEGRATION OF VULNERABLE GROUPS
- NGOs/FORCES VIVES- SCHOOL MATERIALS (29/03/11)
(No. B/75) Mrs F. Labelle (Third Member for Vacoas & Floreal) asked the Vice- Prime Minister, Minister of Social Integration and Economic Empowerment whether, in regard to the Trust Fund for the Social Integration of Vulnerable Groups unit of the National Empowerment Foundation, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Foundation, information as to -
(a) the number of Non-Governmental Organisations/Forces Vives which have received funds therefrom, for the distribution of school materials for the year 2011, indicating the dates on which the materials were distributed, and
(b) if he will table a list of the said NGOs/Forces Vives, indicating the number of children who have benefited therefrom.
The vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Social Integration and Economic Empowerment (Mr X. L. Duval): Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the House may wish to note that it is the policy of the National Empowerment Foundation to provide school materials comprising school bags, stationery, uniforms, shoes and socks on an annual basis to needy students coming from families living under the poverty threshold.
I am informed by the NEF that some 18,000 students in mainland Mauritius are covered under the current scheme for school materials. I am also informed that until last year, this exercise was conducted primarily through the services of NGOs and Parent Teacher Associations whereby they assumed responsibility for purchase and distribution of the school materials to the needy students, whereas the Trust Fund met the cost thereof and supervised the distribution process.
However, in the wake of a reorganisation of its programmes along functional lines and also for reasons of accountability and transparency, the NEF decided for the current year to undertake the procurement of school materials through a tender exercise. The distribution, which is at present ongoing and scheduled to be completed by the end of April, is being carried out with the collaboration of NGOs, where applicable.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am further informed that in the light of the change in procedure adopted by the NEF for the current year, no funds have been disbursed to NGOs operating in mainland Mauritius. However, for practical reasons, the new procedures have not yet been extended to Rodrigues where the procurement and distribution of school materials are being carried out through NGOs and Parent Teacher Associations.
Information pertaining to Rodrigues and involving some 3845 children is accordingly being tabled.
Mrs Labelle: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. May I ask the hon. Minister whether he is aware that in two days it will be the end of the first term, which means that, the neediest children have been deprived of school materials for the whole first term of their academic year?
Mr Duval: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, as I mentioned earlier, it has been like this. These sorts of school materials are distributed all along the year. I think that the hon. Member herself asked a question, last year in fact the last materials were distributed in September.
This year, although we started a bit later - and the NEF apologised for some of the delays last week - we will be ending much earlier. In fact, we should be ending by the first week of April and that is much earlier than previously.
Mrs Labelle: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, must I take it that needy children should not expect to receive the school materials at the beginning of the year because it has been usual practice to give them these materials late?
Mr Duval: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I did not say that. I said that it is going to be better this year and, hopefully, it will be perfect next year.
Dr. S. Boolell: I would like to ask the hon. vice-Prime Minister whether he will not agree that the school materials should be extended to include two uniforms and two pairs of shoes for the year.
Mr Duval: In fact, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, we do provide school materials like
stationery, bags etc, and we do give a voucher for two school uniforms and a pair of shoes. So, these are included already.
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to ask the hon. Minister whether there is no way of reviewing the system completely, to ensure that, henceforth, schools material be made available at the beginning of the first term. Is that possible? If so, can that be envisaged for next year?
Mr Duval: I cannot agree more, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir.
Mrs Labelle: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the hon. Minister has mentioned that, for the sake of accountability, the NEF has reviewed the way of distributing these materials. May I ask the hon. Minister whether he has received cases of malpractices from NGOs, and whether any action has been taken in such cases?
Mr Duval: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, there have been various claims and counter claims last year. But I must say that - without naming any NGOs - in fact, on certain items, we are making very large savings. For certain items, we are paying half the price we would have paid last year. Even for stationary like pen, pencils etc, we are paying about a quarter of the price; but not for everything, I must say. So, for some items there is a big difference in price, and that is a good thing.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I must say that this year we have given the child the choice of choosing his or her own uniform and his or her pair of shoes from a list of approved suppliers.
So, not all poor children are going to have the same shoes. They can actually choose, and if they wish to top up, they can top up.
STUDENTS (ORPHANED) – SCHOOLING (05/04/11)
(No. B/60) Mrs A. Navarre-Marie (First Member for GRNW & Port Louis West) asked the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Reform Institutions whether, in regard to orphaned students above the age of 18, she will state the measures taken by her Ministry to help them pursue their schooling.
CHILDREN (AUTISTIC) – MEASURES (10/05/11)
(No. B/282) Mrs A. Perraud (Fourth Member for Port Louis North & Montagne Longue) asked the Minister of Health and Quality of Life whether, in regard to autism, she will state the number of children suffering therefrom, indicating -
(a) if screening and early detection thereof is carried out on children;
(b) the measures she proposes to take, together with all the stakeholders, to provide additional help to the autistic children and to their parents.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Speaker, Sir, I wish to inform the House that, as at date, some 35 children have been diagnosed with autism in our hospitals.
Concerning part (a) of the question, it is not the practice worldwide to carry out screening for autism. However, autism usually becomes apparent after the age of two with either delay in speaking or behavioural problems. Such suspected cases picked up by parents themselves or detected during routine medical check-ups at school are referred to the appropriate regional hospitals where they are seen by Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Audiologists and Paediatricians. Counselling services are also provided to parents and family members of the patient.
As regards part (b) of the question, my Ministry is already working in close collaboration with stakeholders concerned, such as the Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Reform Institution and ‘Autism Intervention Association’ with a view to -
(i) creating more awareness in the population on this disability through holding of workshops and distribution of pamphlets and brochures for the benefit of the public, and
(ii) preparing materials for circulation among health professionals to help early identification of cases of autism.
Dr. S. Boolell: Mr Speaker, Sir, may I ask the hon. Minister whether she is aware that two weeks ago an organisation called ‘Autisme Maurice’ has been informed by her Ministry that a diagnostic panel is being set up. Is this diagnostic panel being set up and can it be asked to perform a screening exercise towards autism in Mauritius?
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Speaker, Sir, I just stated that there is no screening which is being done as such for autism, but whenever a suspected case is detected, automatically we constitute a panel so that everybody, each medical officer can come in and express his opinion on this case.
Dr. S. Boolell: Mr Speaker, Sir, in view of the fact that autism involves parents,
education, social integration and health, would the Minister take the lead in looking after these diseases and head a team from these Ministries to ensure that these autistic children have a fair living and an equal opportunity in society?
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Speaker, Sir, I have already stated in my reply that my Ministry together with all stakeholders concerned are taking this question of autism into consideration and I am regrouping all NGOs, not only for autism, but also for other diseases. I am regrouping all NGOs working in the same field to take them on board the Ministry so that everybody can work in the same direction.
Dr. S. Boolell: In view of the fact that autism includes the component of education and that there is only one school - I think, in the Beau Bassin area - which has been identified to take on board autistic children, could the Minister be the representative of the autism towards education to make available educational facilities for these children islandwide?
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Speaker, Sir, I have been given to understand from the Ministry of Education that children, suffering from autism, who are admitted in Government primary schools, integrated units or schools run by NGOs providing special education and registered with that Ministry, are offered support services by Psychologists, Speech Therapists and Occupational Therapists.
CHILDREN - SEXUAL ABUSE (24/05/11)
(No. B/377) Ms S. Anquetil (Fourth Member for Vacoas & Floreal): asked the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare whether, in regard to sexual abuse, she will state the number of children victims thereof referred to her Ministry, since 2000 to date, indicating the -
(a) cases thereof in which commercial exploitation has been established, and
(b) additional measures that will be taken to combat same.
Mrs Bappoo: Mr Speaker Sir, in regard to sexual abuse, the number of children victims thereof referred to my Ministry since 2000 till March 2011 is being tabled.
In regard to part (a) of the question, information as submitted by the Commissioner of Police is also being tabled.
As regards additional measures that will be taken to combat Commercial Sexual
Exploitation of Children, the House may note that in the normal course, psycho-social support is given to victims at the level of our six outstations and the Drop in Centre (Day Care) at Bell Village. These comprise the following -
(i) First Aid as appropriate
(ii) Medical/Gynaecological support
(iii) Psychological follow up and counselling
(iv) HIV/testing and support as appropriate
(v) Home visits and Parental counselling
(vi) Food support
(viii) Study pack to encourage victims to go back to school, if enrolment is available, or arrangement is done with stakeholders for alternative skilling.
In addition, my Ministry has embarked on the construction of a Residential Care Centre to cater for victims of commercial sexual exploitation of children who cannot be returned to their family environment. It is to be noted that, pending the completion of the construction of a fullfledged Residential Dropping Centre at GRNW, to provide for rehabilitative and reinsertion needs of these victims, a building is being rented at Curepipe to accommodate same, and this Residential Care Centre will provide for the accommodation of some 15 girls victims of commercial sexual exploitation of children.
A full-fledged training programme for key partners working with children victims of violence, including commercial sexual exploitation of children, has been developed at the level of my Ministry. Some 100 officers from various Ministries such as the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, the Probation and After Care Service of the Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Reform Institutions, the Police Department, officers of our Ministry, NGOs such as SOS Children’s Village, CEDEM, Mouvement d’Aide à la Maternité, Action Familiale, Shelter Forest Side, MACOSS, Terre de Paix, also Save the Children, Caritas, local authorities and the Ombudsperson for Children’s Office have already been trained. It is to be noted that this training programme is ongoing, and the next batch of social workers will be trained as from the end of July 2011.
In an attempt to intensify the campaign and to combat child violence, the IEC strategy is being revisited. Community Child Watch Committees in high risk areas are being set up across the island. At present, we have 20 Community Child Watch Committees already in operation, and furthermore my Ministry is planning to have one Community Child Watch Committee at the level of each of the 56 Social Welfare Centres, the 130 Community Centres and the 16 Women Centres. A 4-month training programme with the members of the Community Child Watch
Committees has already been completed, and members of these Committees are now conversant with issues related to sexual abuse. The Social Welfare Centres and Community Centres are also roped into the process to carry out aggressive IEC campaigns in commercial sexual abuse of children matters. The IEC materials in terms of leaflets and posters/stickers are being designed, and will be developed for dissemination purposes among adults and children at the level of our various structures such as also the District Child Protection Committees, the Community Child Watch Committees, the School Child Protection Clubs, École des Parents and the National Children’s Council/clubs.
Ms Anquetil: Mr Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister for her answer. Can the Minister inform the House if she intends to propose stronger child protection laws in a near future?
Mrs Bappoo: Mr Speaker, Sir, actually, we are working through a series of workshops on the forthcoming Bill, which will be the Children Consolidated Bill. I am sure that the provisions concerning offences and penalties will be discussed, so that it becomes tougher still.
Dr. S. Boolell: Dans le concret, M. le président, est-ce que la ministre pourrait essayer d’élaborer un projet d’accompagnement scolaire, une action positive en faveur du rattrapage au niveau de l’éducation ? Car, bien souvent, ces victimes sont totalement en retard au niveau de l’éducation et sont appelées seulement à être prises en charge par un couvent.
Mrs Bappoo: I have just tried to explain in my answer that the victims are also being rehabilitated to go back to school, but I do agree with the hon. Member. If there should be a specific programme for them pour le rattrapage, this will certainly be worked out with the Ministry of Education. I suppose that in the remedial programme, this will be taken care.
Mr Uteem: Out of the victims who have been referred to her Ministry, may I know from the hon. Minister how many were linked to abuses by parents or close relatives?
Mrs Bappoo: I need notice of the question, Mr Speaker, Sir.
SCHOOLS – MAURITIAN SIGN LANGUAGE (24/05/11)
(No. B/385) Mrs L. Ribot (Third Member for Stanley & Rose Hill) asked the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Reform Institutions whether, in regard to the deaf and dumb persons, she will state -
(a) if the sign language used on the MBC television is similar to the one taught in schools;
(b) the secondary education prospects open to them, and
(c) if consideration will be given for the advisability of -
(i) impressing upon the bus operators to fit the buses with warning lights for their benefit, and
(ii) setting up a scheme with a view to offering them batteries for their hearing aids and mobile phones free of charge.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am informed that the Sign language used by the MBC is the Mauritian Sign Language (MSL) and it is similar to the one taught in schools.
However, at the beginning of this month, the attention of my Ministry was drawn by one NGO that a few additional signs need to be included in the MSL.
Professor Hookoomsing, Chairman of the Mauritian Sign Language Committee, has been informed accordingly and has been requested to address the issue with a view to making the Mauritian Sign Language more comprehensive. It has also been decided to co-opt a representative of the NGO on the MSL Committee.
Regarding part (b), I would like to point out that a number of students with hearing impairment are already integrated in at least 6 mainstream secondary schools.
These schools benefit from the services of supporting staff from the Ministry of Education and Human Resources and the logistic support of my Ministry in terms of hearing aids and counseling services. On the other hand, pre-vocational classes are run by the School for the Deaf at Beau Bassin and by the Association des Parents des Déficients Auditifs (APDA) at Curepipe.
Regarding part (c)(i) I wish to inform the House that the Road Traffic Regulations 2010 provide for buses to be equipped with either a bell or a warning light to stop the bus.
As such, the provision of warning light is optional at this stage. My Ministry is proposing to liaise with the National Transport Authority for the amendment of the relevant regulations so that all public buses be equipped with both a bell and a warning light to stop the bus. This is already the case in some buses in some companies in Mauritius.
As for part c(ii), I wish to inform the House that my Ministry already provides hearing aids fitted with batteries free of charge on request.
However, with regard to the provision of subsequent batteries free of charge, the Ministry does not consider this to be a practical option.
I also wish to inform the House that following a request from an NGO, namely ‘Les Enfants du Silence’, and considering that a mobile phone is, in fact, a useful communication tool, my Ministry has contacted local suppliers for the supply of same at a reduced price to persons with hearing impairment.
Some local suppliers have responded positively and are presently studying this possibility.
Mrs Ribot: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I thank the hon. Minister for her answer.
Concerning the sign language, the MBC/TV does use the Mauritian Sign Language whereas it seems, according to information, that at school what is being taught is the American Sign Language. Could the hon. Minister kindly see to it that the sign language be standardised?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I wish to ask the hon. Member to refer to what I have just said. I have just mentioned that the Mauritian Sign Language which has been prepared by the National Committee is being taught in schools and, as I have mentioned, there is one particular NGO which has approached the Ministry and has drawn our attention to the fact that a few signs are missing from the Mauritian Sign Language and the needful is being done by the Sign Language Committee so as to make it more comprehensive.
Mrs Ribot: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, as far as secondary education is concerned - I am not referring only to the deaf children, I am referring to the deaf and dumb together - not much is being done to integrate them in the standard system of our education.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, as the House may be aware, Mauritius has already ratified the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and one of the main points put forward was to have an integrated system of education. But we do agree that we are still lagging behind because we don’t have the proper infrastructure and the logistics that are required for complete integration of our students within the mainstream education. However, we still have schools. Referring to deaf and dumb, the term ‘deaf and dumb’ is very rarely used because we are aware of the negative connotations. So, we use the term ‘deaf’ and it is true to say that most of the deaf students have a problem of speech. So, we talk about speech impairment and we do not normally use the term ‘deaf’ and dumb for that particular case.
Mrs Ribot: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I thank the hon. Minister for the lesson and I just make an appeal again that a kind of special school be set up for those deaf students.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, there are two schools in Mauritius: the School for the Deaf, which also includes students with speech impairment and APDA at Curepipe where also you have both deaf and students with deafness and speech impairment in the same establishment.
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY – CREOLE LANGUAGE (14/06/11)
(No. B/475) Mr R. Bhagwan (First Member for Beau Bassin & Petite Rivière) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence, Home Affairs and External Communications whether, in regard to the Creole Language, he will state if Government proposes to amend the existing legislation with a view to introducing the use thereof in the National Assembly and, if so, when.
The Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir, as the House is aware, section 49 of the
Constitution provides that the official language of the Assembly shall be English, but any Member may address the chair in French.
Standing Order 5 of the Standing Orders and Rules of the National Assembly provides that the proceedings and debates of the Assembly shall be in English Language, but a Member may address the Assembly in French.
In reply to Parliamentary Question B/76 on 01 April 2008, I indicated that all implications regarding the use of Creole in Parliament would be looked into, and that the use of Creole was gradually being integrated into our linguistic landscape.
In this respect, Mr Speaker, Sir, I wish to recall that, in line with the announcement made in the Government Programme 2010-2015 for the introduction of Kreol Morisien as an optional subject in schools, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources is actively working towards the implementation of this measure.
Mr Speaker, Sir, at paragraph 145 of the Government Programme 2010-2015, Government has clearly indicated that existing research work will be supplemented and consolidated, so as to develop an agreed standardised spelling and grammar for the Mauritian Kreol.
Once this exercise is completed, the desirability and advisability of allowing the use of Creole in the National Assembly will be considered.
Mr Bérenger: Mr Speaker, Sir, may I ask the hon. Prime Minister whether he is aware that there is a precedent that Creole has been used officially in the past in the municipalities, which met with no problem for recording, debate or for whatever purposes?
The Prime Minister: That is a good sign if we have used it before, but, as I said, we are looking at all the implications. For example, if we have clauses in a law, how we will address it, what is the language, and how will we analyse it. That is what we are looking at.
Mr Bhagwan: Mr Speaker, Sir, since the hon. Prime Minister knows that much progress has been achieved very recently, like last week itself when Government adopted orthography for Mauritian Creole, I don’t think there would be any problem as far as the Hansard is concerned.
Can the hon. Prime Minister…
Mr Speaker: The Prime Minister has explained that he is looking into it. I am sorry hon. Bhagwan, I am prepared to help hon. Members to put questions, but this question has been answered comprehensively and at length by the Prime Minister, who said that the matter is being looked into and that in the future we will consider it.
The hon. Member can put his question now. The hon. Member should not repeat what the Prime Minister has said.
Mr Bhagwan: I am not repeating, Sir. You have not listened to what I have said.
Mr Speaker: Carry on! The way you started…
Mr Bhagwan: Let me finish. Can the hon. Prime Minister give an assurance to the House that, at least, during this mandate, the use of the Creole language at the National Assembly…
Mr Speaker: The hon. Prime Minister does not give guarantee, and hon. Members cannot ask for guarantees.
The Prime Minister: But there are certain difficulties. That is what I have been trying to say. For example, let us look at an interview that Mr Dev Virahsawmy gave. He has been promoting the Creole language and, on that issue, this is what he said - “Oui, le creole doit être introduit au parlement, mais il y a tout un travail à faire.” That is exactly what I am saying. He continues - “Je ne pense pas que les parlementaires qui sont en faveur aient bien réfléchi aux implications.”
There are implications. That is why I am saying.
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Speaker, Sir, I have listened carefully to the Prime Minister and he said in his answer that, once we have a standardised form for writing Creole and once the issues of grammar have been addressed, then we can go for it. Is the Prime Minister aware that, thanks to the work started in 2004, but now completed…
Mr Speaker: The hon. Member should put his question, now.
Mr Obeegadoo: Is the Prime Minister aware that we now have a standardised form for written Creole, which will allow introduction of Mauritian Kreol in schools in January next year, as he said, and…
Mr Speaker: The hon. Member is making a speech.
Mr Obeegadoo:…the grammar has been completed, published and launched by his Minister of Education and Human Resources? What impediment now remains, since the Opposition is in agreement to amend whatever laws, including the Constitution, for the purposes of using Creole in the House?
The Prime Minister: I always think twice when the Opposition is in agreement with us.
For example, the hon. Member stated what is being done at the Ministry of Education and Human Resources. We have started it, but it is not completed yet. From what I understand, it is for Std I. There are some implications.
This is what I am saying. We will have to look at all the issues first before we decide.
Mr Guimbeau: M. le président…
Mr Speaker: Let me listen to the question!
Mr Guimbeau: 43 ans ont passé depuis l’indépendance, M. le président.
Mr Speaker: No comments! The hon. Member should put his question.
Mr Guimbeau: I would like to ask the hon. Prime Minister whether he knows that, in the Seychelles, Parliament sessions are held in Creole. Why is it that, in Mauritius, on méprise toujours la langue créole, M. le président?
Mr Speaker: The Prime Minister has just explained. Next question! Hon. Lesjongard!
CHILD LABOUR (21/06/11)
(No. B/530) Mr J. Seetaram (Second Member for Montagne Blanche & G.R.S.E.) asked the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare whether, in regard to child labour, she will state the additional measures Government proposes to take for the prevention thereof, indicating if consideration will be given for the imposition of tougher punishment with a view to combat same.
The Minister of Labour, Industrial relations and Employment (Mr S. Mohamed):
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, with your permission, I am going to reply to PQ No. B/530.
Section 12 of the Employment Rights Act 2008 provides that no person shall employ a child for employment or work in any occupation. A child is defined as being a person under the age of 16. The Act also provides that any person who employs such a child shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding Rs10,000 and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding a year.
The House may wish to note that before December 2006 the minimum age for employment was 15 years. In December 2006, the minimum age for employment was raised to 16 years to be in line with the Education Act which was amended to extend compulsory schooling up to 16 years.
Mr Speaker, Sir, regular inspections, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, are carried out by officers of the Labour Division of my Ministry at workplaces which, in fact, are meant also to detect child employment. In addition, whenever my Ministry receives information on cases of child employment, prompt action is taken. In all detected cases, child employment is stopped forthwith and criminal action is taken against offenders.
I would like to inform the House that officers of my Ministry also work in collaboration with the Brigade des Mineurs which is an emanation of the police authority. Whenever the Brigade des Mineurs detects any case of child employment, it immediately informs my Ministry and prompt action is taken.
Since 2006, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, 16 employers have been prosecuted for child employment before the Industrial Court and 14 of them have been found guilty and fined.
Mr Speaker, Sir, as there are indeed sufficient measures to combat child labour, there is, in fact, no need, at this stage, to take additional measures. As regards tougher punishment to be imposed on offenders, I am giving due consideration to the matter in the context of the amendments which are soon to be brought to the Labour legislation.
Mr Seetaram: I thank the hon. Minister for his answer. Can I ask the Minister whether he would give due consideration for more public awareness through campaigning so that the public in general can be aware of it and can report such cases and bring those employers to task before justice?
Mr Mohamed: I totally understand the hon. Member, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir.
Obviously, there is need to give publicity to such measures. This will, at least, conscientiser the population of the country. In fact, I must say that the Ministry, at the time of making those amendments in 2006, had done a lot of work in order to let the public at large know what the law was and what would be the consequences of any violation thereof. I must also say that since today that this question has been put- which I welcome - once again, since it has been answered in this august Assembly, the population at large is being in such a way made aware of what the measures and the laws are. We will also continue in the same spirit to try to make more people know what the situation is and continuer d’être vigilants.
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, is the hon. Minister aware that around a quarter of the 12 to 15 age group is unschooled as per official statistics of the Ministry of Education and, therefore, prime targets for child labour and if so, will he liaise with his colleague from the Ministry of Education to see to it that compulsory education as per law is properly enforced in this country?
Mr Mohamed: I thank the hon. Member for the question once again. I am of the view that, yes, it is important that there be communication between Ministries and my hon. friend, the Minister of Education and myself, we have many times liaised on this particular issue. However, I also believe, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, that it will be totally improper and unfair to give the impression that there is a situation at the moment whereby those people who are prime targets, potentially so, are, in fact, targets and being targeted and are already victims of such targeting.
The fact is, as it stands today, our country - I have given the facts and figures which speak for themselves. We identify, with the help of reports made to the Ministry, who are those who are violating the law when it comes to child labour. We are not a country that really suffers, compared to other countries in the world where we have gross violations of international conventions. We are proud to say that we have adhered to two important conventions with regard to child labour and our laws are in line with the conventions. Not only are our laws in line with the conventions, but, in practice, we are doing everything as a responsible State should do, to keep in line with the law.
CHILD PROTECTION – STUDY (21/06/11)
(No. B/548) Mr D. Khamajeet (Second Member for Flacq & Bon Accueil) asked the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare whether, in regard to the child, she will state if any study has been carried out on the structural well being, protection and security thereof at national level and, if so, indicate the -
(a) outcome thereof, and
(b) short and medium term measures proposed.
Mrs Bappoo: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, in regard to the structural well being, protection and security of the child at national level, there has not been any study as such. But, I am informed that following the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on children where world leaders pledged to take concrete action to create a world fit for children, the Mauritian Government also came forward with a “Republic fit for Children Policy Paper” 2003-2015 to pave the way in a holistic manner for the total development of the Mauritian child. The Children’s Policy Paper was followed by a corresponding National Plan of Action.
This Paper was produced after wide consultations with all the stakeholders of Government, the private sector, NGOs, parents and community-based organisations and even children.
It is also to be noted that to better protect the Mauritian child, the Child Protection Act 1994 amended in 2005 and 2008 has, as main objectives, the safeguarding of the best interest of the child in his/her rights. This legal framework also assists and protects the child from the suffering of any form of violence. The Children’s Policy Paper with its National Plan of Action and the Child Protection Act cater for the protection and security of our Mauritian child.
These policies, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, are still relevant today and emphasise the roles and duties of Government, private sector, civil society including parents to promote and protect children’s universal rights in accordance with the provisions of the Convention of the Rights of the Child.
Although a lot has been achieved in terms of action taken to protect our children and, in view of the increasing number of cases of children victims violence, there is still much to do to improve and to ensure the protection and security of our children.
As to part (b) of the question, as from May 2010, I have introduced a series of new initiatives which include, inter alia, -
(i) the reinforcement of the Child Protection Services to attend and provide timely intervention on reported cases of children victims of violence;
(ii) the training of field staff on techniques for interventions and counselling in child violence cases;
(iii) development of a guideline for intervention to ensure standard practice at the level of all outstations;
(iv) the provision of two new shelters for children victims of abuse presently under construction, one at Cap Malheureux for boys aged 12 years and above, and the other one at Floreal for infants below three years, to relieve the shelter of the Ministry at ‘La Colombe’, Pointe aux Sables which is at date overcrowded;
(v) the launching, at date, of Ecole des Parents in 13 deprived regions under the National Parental Empowerment Programme;
(vi) the strengthening of the Community Child Protection Programme including the setting up of Community Childwatch in 20 high risk regions and nine District Child Protection Committees;
(vii) the setting up of the School Child Protection Clubs in Primary and Secondary Schools with the aim of creating a platform at school level for the empowerment of the child towards the creation of a violence free environment conducive for his/ her overall development;
(viii) the setting up of a special squad and a forthcoming inspectorate for the proper monitoring of Child Day Care Centres;
(ix) the strengthening of the Foster Care System to give the opportunity to children removed from their family environment to evolve in a substitute family and, up to now, some 90 children have been placed in foster families;
(x) initiation for a consultative process since November 2010 to work out a new Children’s Bill and this process will be ongoing till December 2011.
(xi) construction of a Residential Care Centre for Victims of Commercial, Sexual Exploitation of Children at Grand River North West, and
(xii) intensifying the crackdown operations organised during the school year jointly with the Brigade de la Protection des Mineurs and the National Children’s Council with a view to discouraging children from loitering and undertaking risky behaviours.
I would like, here, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, also to point out that a Un Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography visited Mauritius from 02 to 11 May 2011 and the objective of her mission was to gather first-hand information and present an impartial evaluation of the situation of children victims of violence in Mauritius.
Following a series of meetings with the different Ministries/Departments and NGOs involved with children, she has recommended the setting up of a National Strategic Framework so that the role of all stakeholders/actors, intervening in children cases can be clarified at the same time harmonised and integrated for prompt and effective action. Actually, we are working on the terms of reference of a UN Consultant to assist my Ministry in the setting up of this framework at national level.
Furthermore, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am proud to inform the House that no later than last Thursday, that is, on 16 June, on the occasion of the International Day of the African Child, my Ministry in collaboration with the National Children’s Council has launched the National Children’s Committee stipulated at section 13 of the National Children’s Council Act 2003. This Committee was long overdue and has come to address the need for a National Interactive Children’s Forum where children themselves can voice out their views and opinions thus
translating into reality the right to participation in line with the Articles 12 and 13 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
SCHOOL CANTEENS – HEALTH INSPECTORS – VISITS (28/06/11)
(No. B/610) Mrs A. Navarre-Marie (First Member for GRNW and Port Louis West) asked the Minister of Health and Quality of Life whether, in regard to the school canteens, she will state the number thereof visited by Health Inspectors, since January 2010 to date, indicating if any items were seized and, if so, the reasons therefor.
Reply: The Health Inspectorate Division of my Ministry has effected 3,110 inspections of foodstuffs in the 286 school canteens throughout the island from January 2010 to 23 June 2011.
161 units of yoghurt were seized as they were not properly labelled and therefore, not in compliance with the Food Act and Regulations. 119 sticks of jelly were also seized as it is an unauthorised food item in school canteens.
INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION – AFROBAROMETER – SURVEY (17/07/12)
(No. B/553) Mr C. Fakeemeeah (Third Member for Port Louis Maritime and Port Louis East) asked the Minister of Information and Communication Technology whether, in regard to the new information and communication tools, he will state if he has taken cognizance of the findings of the recent survey carried out by Afrobarometer as to the use thereof in Mauritius, and if so, indicate the additional measures that will be taken in relation thereto.
Reply: I have taken cognizance of the findings of Afrobarometer 2012, a survey carried out by Straconsult in January and February this year among a randomly selected sample of 1200 Mauritians aged 18 and above.
Afrobarometer 2012 indicates that the percentage of persons who have never used a computer is 59% and those who have never used the Internet is 64%.
The survey does not, however, give a correct picture of the actual situation as the findings contrast sharply with those contained in the 2012 survey of Statistics Mauritius which revealed that 51.3% of persons age 5 years and above reported that they could use a computer.
With regard to Internet, actual figures show that at the end of 2011, number of Internet subscriptions stood at 370,000 representing 31% of internet penetration and the proportion of household having a computer has reached 38%. With mobile penetration having now reached more than 100%, more and more people are using the mobile to access the Internet. With these figures, it can be safely concluded that a higher percentage of Mauritians are presently using the Internet.
My Ministry is implementing numerous programmes aimed at promoting ICT literacy and this is giving the opportunity to a larger proportion of the population to have access and use both the computer and the internet. Some of the measures taken are as follows -
• all 275 Primary schools have free Broadband Internet Access;
• all State and Private Secondary Schools have free Broadband Internet Access;
• 160,000 people have been trained on IC3 under the Prime Minister’s Universal ICT Education Programme;
• 173 computer clubs with free Broadband Internet Service have been set up around the island in Women centres, Youth centres, Social Welfare centres, Community Centres, Day Care Centres, with more than 400,000 people having already availed of same;
• 95 Public Internet Access Points across Mauritius and Rodrigues (5) -140,000 people have used the service, and
• 3 Cyber Caravans have trained more than 120,000 persons
The National Strategic Plan 2011 – 2014 and the National Broadband Policy have already enumerated the strategies and actions required to increase both computer and internet usage. The measures include, inter alia, the following -
- stimulate competition to bring the price of telecommunication further down;
- encourage and facilitate new entrants in the telecommunication service (e.g. Bharat Telecom implementing the Fibre to Home Project);
- encourage the development of Mobile Application;
- additional 100 computer clubs to be set up;
- accelerate the Universal ICT Education Programme;
- encourage the setting up of a more Wifi Zones across the island, and
- set up training facilities specifically targeting the handicapped and old aged.
MAURITIUS - ICT HUB (17/07/12)
(No. B/532) Ms S. Anquetil (Fourth Member for Vacoas & Floreal) asked the Minister of Information and Communication Technology whether, in regard to computer literacy, he will state the steps taken by his Ministry for the promotion thereof, with a view to be in line with Government’s vision to accelerate the transformation of Mauritius into an ICT hub and make it the main pillar of the economy, indicating the -
(a) current percentage thereof, and
(b) if the target of 85% thereof is being envisaged and, if so, by when.
Mr Pillay-Chedumbrum: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, in line with the vision and declared policy of Government to make the ICT sector a stronger pillar of our economy and to transform Mauritius into an ICT hub and a knowledge society, citizens of different age groups and of different walks of life are being offered the opportunity to follow computer literacy courses to enable them to enhance, to embrace ICT in their daily life, be it at home, at school and at workplace, with a view to improving their lifestyle and raising their standard of living.
In this context, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, my Ministry has taken the following measures.
(i) The implementation of the Prime Minister’s Universal ICT Education Programme, under which Internet and Computing Core Certificate, (IC3) course, is being offered to the public in general. At this stage, it is good to note that the price, which was supposed to be at Rs5,000, those who have subscribed for those courses have to pay only Rs750. To encourage people to go and follow those courses, it is free for senior citizens and handicapped persons. As at date, Mr
Deputy Speaker, Sir, some 160,000 persons in Mauritius and 2,100 in Rodrigues have attended the IC3 course.
(ii) The integration of the IC3 course content in the syllabus of Computer Studies for students of Forms I to Form III, to ensure that all students be computer literate.
(iii) The dispensing of IC3 course through a series of 12 educational video clips in creole to reach a maximum number of people.
(iv) Phase II of the UIEP, which is an advanced course of the IC3, is currently being dispensed online and, as at date, we have more than 600 participants having been registered for the different courses.
(v) The dispensing of training through three cyber caravans in areas where ICT facilities are not readily available and accessible, more than 122,000 persons have
benefited from such training.
(vi) Under the Community Empowerment Programme, my Ministry, in collaboration with the National Computer Board, has set up 173 computer clubs across the island in Community Centres, Women Centres, Social Welfare Centres, Youth Clubs and Day Care Centres, to provide free internet facilities. As at date, we can say safely that some 400,000 persons have made use of these facilities.
Apart from the IC3 courses, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, there are other courses which are being run by other private IT institutions.
In addition to the above measures, 95 internet access points have been set up in post offices, both in Mauritius and in Rodrigues, to provide internet facilities to the population.
Moreover, my Ministry, in collaboration with the ICT Authority, has launched the Wifi Project in March this year on a pilot basis in five Municipal Councils and four District Councils, as well as the Administrative Building in Rodrigues, are being provided with internet facilities, which the citizens can access free of charge. Moreover, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, each zone is also being equipped with at least five PCs, with free internet access for those who cannot afford a laptop and/or any other mobile device.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, with regard to part (a) of the question, I am informed that, according to Statistics Mauritius, the percentage of computer literacy has considerably increased these days and, as at 2010, that is, the last available indication, around 51.3% of the population is computer literate. However, the percentage is much higher among young people.
As regards part (b) of the question, it is expected that the percentage can reach 75% by the end of 2013 and 85% at latest by the end of 2015.
The Ministry of Education and Human Resources- Programme Code 422:
Pre-Primary Education was called. (23/10/12)
Mr Bhagwan: Regarding the Early Childhood Care and Education Authority, there is a sum of Rs6,499 m. Can I know from the hon. Minister whether there is a Board?
Dr. Bunwaree: The Board is in place and is functioning properly.
The Chairperson: Hon. Obeegadoo, do you have any question?
Mr Obeegadoo: Unfortunately, I apologise. Mr Chairperson, I don’t know what question my colleague asked. I wanted to know in what circumstances, the State Law Office would have given this advice? Was it a request from the Ministry? Was it as a result of an industrial dispute reported by the attendants? What were the circumstances in which the State Law Office was called upon to deliver this advice and on what basis he did so? As the hon. Minister is aware, there are other categories, within the State pre-primary sector, who are awaiting for their grievances to be addressed.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Chairperson, in fact, the funding that we are asking for, has helped to deal with a longstanding issue. I remember when I was Minister of Labour, the issue came up to me, because the workers were appealing to the Ministry, to the authorities, to get their claims approved. In fact, it was sent to the State Law Office by ourselves, because we wanted to regularise the situation of these workers and, of course, as my colleagues do know, the hon. Members as well, we asked the advice of the State Law Office. It took us some time because it concerned about 179 attendants; they were employed on contract basis and on various schemes.
Some were under the PRB, some under the NRB, some under the PRB and NRB regimes. Now that this has been successfully integrated in a permanent and pensionable establishment of the 115 ECCEA, I think the unions are very satisfied, they are happy, because it was a long fight and, in fact, this why we are asking to appropriate this excess fund.
Mr Obeegadoo: In that case, since the teachers of the pre-primary sector have the very same grievances, being governed by different regimes, standardisation has not meant the same benefits applicable to all. Will the Minister, therefore, in the same spirit, which we commend, commit to seriously consider their grievances as soon as possible?
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Chairman, the question does not arise from this, and we are not voting the budget for it. But the point is being raised and we will, of course, look into whatever abnormalities there could be in the system.
Programme Code 422: Pre-Primary Education (Rs3,048,705) was, on question put, agreed to.
Programme Code 425: Technical and Vocational Education was called.
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Chairman, can the hon. Minister kindly explain to us what is the rationale behind this very significant additional budget we are being asked to fund and what, precisely, in terms of operation cost would have suddenly cropped up between July and December 2011?
Dr. Bunwaree: It is not a question of suddenly cropping up. The hon. Member will see at page 27 it is mentioned that it is for the period July to December 2011, which means that from the period January to June there was no problem. The budget that had been earmarked and that we appropriated of Rs205,100,000 was, in fact, underestimated on purpose because we knew that the amount that would be needed would be much more than that for the whole year. But there was an arrangement with the HRDC where some funds were kept and due to some confusion in the past that money was supposed to be for the MITD and it was not sent there, the Ministry of Finance intervened to say we had to regularise the situation. The HRDC was supposed to be responsible for the remainder, that is, from July to December. But, unfortunately, part was done.
I think about a sum of Rs71 m. was paid to the Consolidated Fund by HRDC to be sent to MITD, and the other part came from the Ministry of Finance straightaway.
The HRDC could not take the whole of the Rs150 m. under its responsibility for various reasons. One is that the training levy percentage had decreased. In fact, we have decreased it ourselves from 1% to 0.5% which means that they were getting less money, but this, we had already envisaged. The National Trading Fund which caters for the operational cost and so on, which is the levy fund, is getting less and less. I must also say that there was an aggressive campaign by HRDC for training to take place in the country and, therefore, many more employers started coming up. Therefore, they had to be refunded which means that the HRDC funds were being depleted by other means and, therefore, they could not cater for the whole. So, almost half of it was taken care by HRDC and the other half of the Rs150 m. we are asking to appropriate came from the Ministry of Finance. This is how we explain that for the month of July to December 2011, this is the sum, excess fund, that we have to appropriate today.
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Chairman, may I ask the hon. Minister what conclusion we are to draw from this? Should we understand that with the revision of the Grant Levy Scheme, the 1.5%, most of it going to HRDC, that henceforth we can safely assure that the MITD budget will be much more significant than it has been so far, and if so, will the hon. Minister commit to an institutional audit since the MITD has come on the criticism for its effectiveness so far?
Dr. Bunwaree: I thank the hon. Member for this question. Next year, we will have the whole amount and we won’t need to come and vote for half of the budget at the end of the year.
This means that MITD will get the budget that it needs for the whole year whereas for this year we have given the explanation why we had undervalued the cost at the beginning. So far, as audit is concerned, it is an ongoing process. In fact, we have an enquiry which has been set up, presided by Professor Torul, to look into industrial relations, disputes and so on. I am waiting for this report to come to me, and then we can see the way ahead.
Mr Obeegadoo: I have just one last question. I am not concerned with industrial relations. If the hon. Minister of Finance bears with me, we are being asked to approve an additional sum of Rs150 m. which is public money. It is being spent, I know, but the implications, as the hon. Minister just said, is that the budget we will be voting in November will be significantly higher. Will he agree to an institutional audit? I am not talking about industrial relations, but about the cost-effectiveness of the operation of the MITD so far.
Dr. Bunwaree: If need be, we will do that. But then, I have said, I am confirming and I am being reminded that for financial year 2012, the total Government grant of Rs395 m. will be made. The deficit in the MITD budget is an exceptional one. I think it is very clear. Next year, therefore, we will come back to the figure that will be needed for that.
Programme Code 425: Technical and Vocational Education (Rs146,829,842) was, on question put, agreed to.
ST HUBERT-MAHEBOURG/ST HUBERT-CUREPIPE – BUS SERVICE (23/10/12)
Mr M. Seeruttun (Second Member for Vieux Grand Port & Rose Belle): M. le président, le sujet que je vais aborder concerne, encore une fois, le ministre responsable de la NTA. Je me sens dans l’obligation de revenir sur ce sujet que j’avais pris il y a plus de quatre mois. Cela concerne le problème de transport sur les routes numéros 11 et 87 St Hubert- Mahebourg et St Hubert-Curepipe. J’avais demandé au ministre de faire quelque chose pour qu’on puisse trouver une solution à ce problème-là. Ce n’est pas possible que depuis des années
on a un problème mais on n’arrive pas à le résoudre. Les horaires ne sont pas respectés, le matin comme l’après-midi. Les gens qui travaillent tout comme les écoliers n’arrivent pas à avoir le bus à l’heure qu’il faut et donc ils arrivent en retard à l’école et au travail, de même que le soir ils rentrent tard chez eux parce que les bus ne respectent pas les horaires.
Des requêtes ont été faites à la NTA mais rien n’a été fait. Donc, là je viens vers le ministre et je demande à ce qu’il agisse et qu’il fasse quelque chose pour que le problème soit résolu dans un plus bref délai. Je compte sur le ministre et j’espère qu’il va faire le nécessaire.
COMMITTEE OF SUPPLY
Ministry of Education and Human Resources – (28/11/12)
Programme Code 421: Policy and Management for Education and Human Resources was called.
Mr Obeegadoo: I hope that the 20 minutes do not start running until I am given the floor, Mr Chairperson.
No, I need to wait to be given the floor by the Chairperson.
Mr Chairperson, I refer to page 325, fourth bullet - Student Tracking Mechanism. I would like to know what precisely is this ‘Student Tracking Mechanism’ which is supposed to have been a major achievement for 2012 when, according to the Minister of Finance in the Budget Speech, there are some 5000 children who are either not attending or not attending regularly schools in Mauritius.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Chairperson, it is a special project that started in late 2011, and the purpose of that project was to identify school children and to produce reliable statistics on children not attending school in both the primary and the secondary sector. The aim was to ensure that children aged between 5 and 16 years are attending school as per existing law.
The objective was clear, and we had a methodology. The tracking of student involves the compilation of individual records of each child by school and grade together with other personal parameters. The total list of pupils in Standard I is compared to the list of children born in the corresponding year to identify children not enrolled at school. Similarly, the children in Standards II to VI and Forms I to VI are monitored using comparative list for any dropout.
The system covers State grant aided and fee paying schools - the Prevoc schools, PSSA schools and the MITD centres, and also institutions falling under the MQA. So, as I mentioned, it started in 2011. C’est assez récent ; on est en train de travailler là-dessus, et cela semble donner de bons résultats.
Mr Obeegadoo: Why is it listed as a major achievement if it is just at a stage of compiling figures? Let me turn to page 326 then - Major Constraints and Challenges at the bottom of the page. I note that the Ministry refers to the need to review the CPE, including the current system of certification and allocation of seats, and I find the same thing on page 333, whereby the Ministry intends by June of this year to bring proposals to Cabinet. May we know what we are being called upon to fund here? What does the Ministry have in mind?
Dr. Bunwaree: The hon. Member just mentioned the achievements of the tracking
mechanism. As I said, it just started and we already have the methodology; awareness of Head of schools/zone staff have been completed, standard form for registration of pupils, two versions of software for recording and capturing of data have been developed inhouse for use by schools, and training of staff involved in data collection and capture have been carried out twice in 2012.
Coming to CPE, in fact, we had a first consultative forum organised in December 2011, where all stakeholders were called upon to discuss and to see all the aspects of the CPE because we want to review the system. It is the talk of the country, I must say, and, as an outcome of this first major forum, five working groups were set up to examine proposals received during the forum. The five committees were set up as follows –
(a) review and deloading of curriculum;
(b) review of paper design and format;
(c) review of assessment and automatic promotion;
(d) reinforcement of pedagogy and remedial education, and
(e) selection and allocation of seats.
Mr Chairperson, the working group which comprises representatives, as I have said, from different stakeholder organisations, worked on the assignment culminating in the submission of a report by each group. Chaque groupe a déjà soumis son rapport. A committee at the level of my Ministry then examined the reports to ensure consistency and coherence in the different recommendations. Ils ont fait des recommandations aussi. A summary of the recommendations
with clearcut measures that may be implemented in the immediate short term, medium term and in the long term has been worked out, and is being discussed at the level of my Ministry.
With a view to further discussing, analysing and validating the various findings and recommendations and evolving consensus, a full fledged national forum - un deuxième – will shortly be held, I expect in the month of December, après les resultats du CPE.
Donc, l’année dernière on a eu cela, et puis on a eu cinq comités de travail pendant un an.
Le ministère a eu les recommandations de tous ces cinq comités ; on a déjà terminé le travail.
Maintenant, il faut réorganiser le grand forum with all the stakeholders concerned, so that we can work out an implementation timeframe for period 2013 to 2015.
This will have to be elaborated then.
Mr Obeegadoo: Again, the hon. Minister speaks of processes, but does not tell us where with the budget he is asking us to vote will be taking us in 2013. Nobody understands where we are going; we are just looking at processes. Let me, Mr Chairperson, refer to page 333. Again, this is very confusing. I refer to the first outcome indicator. We are told that in 2011 the actual school life expectancy is 12.1 years and 2013 is 12.1 years. Is the Minister telling us that, right now, in Mauritius, the average number of school years, the average number of years of education that a young person gets is 12 years? This cannot stand, this cannot be. I want the Minister to confirm that this is not totally misleading; the average number of school years of education of a young Mauritian cannot be 12 years.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Chairperson, I don’t know whether we are talking of school life expectancy. It represents the average number of years of schooling that individuals can expect to receive in school or university, including years spent on repetition. It is defined as the age specific enrolment ratio for primary, secondary, post secondary, non tertiary and tertiary education. With regard to the calculation method for primary and secondary education - I think this will be interesting for you - school life expectancy is calculated as the sum of the age specific enrolment rates for primary and secondary education (de 5 à 17 ans) plus the enrolment that is not distributed by age, multiplied by duration of that level of education over the school age population for the level of education they are enrolling. It is a complicated formula, but it gives the figures. The school life expectancy from primary to tertiary in the world is 11.5; dans le monde entier. In developed countries, 16.3; upper middle income countries, 12.8; sub-Saharan Africa, 9.1 et pour Maurice on a les chiffres.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Under Major Constraints and Challenges, I see that the services of Project Managers will be enlisted. When I look at the posts created, I don’t see any post of Project Managers. Can I know from the hon. Minister how many Project Managers he proposes to recruit, whether those Project Managers will not be in clash with the Project Managers at the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, and which projects he specifically has in mind?
Dr. Bunwaree: We are talking essentially about capacity building; it is under capacity building because for Prevoc we are reinventing the wheel, for Special Education Needs also. We have already set up a few mechanisms, and for the ICT on est en train de rénover. Donc, pour chacun de ces programmes, pour pouvoir aller vite, on est obligé d’avoir des Project Managers, and we are using the capacity building programme.
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Chairperson, I turn to page 352, which is the staffing position.
I note that, once again this year, having regard to human resources analysis, there is no position of Director HR Development nor is there a Principal HR Analyst or a Senior HR Analyst. So, my question is: how can we be asked to fund for a Ministry of Education and Human Resources whereas all the work on human resources is now shifted out to the HRDC, and the Ministry has not a single specialist staff member to look into human resource issues?
Dr. Bunwaree: This is not exact. Nothing is being shifted to the HRDC. The HRDC has got its Council, and it works accordingly. We have a Unit at the level of the Ministry which takes care of human resource. Mais, je suis d’accord qu’il faut renforcer ce Unit, parce que c’est un élément important. So, there is a post of a Director of Human Resource Development, parce qu’on est en train de construire cette unité. The Ministry of Education and Human Resources, as we know, has been entrusted the portfolio of Human Resource Development, and it is responsible for the formulation of policy and strategy in relation to training, Human Resource Development implemented by institutions, which fall under the aegis of the Ministry, namely the HRDC, the MITD also, the MQA, and a regulatory body for Technical and Vocational Education and Training.
So, to coordinate matters relating to human resources strategy development, it is being contemplated to set up this new HR Unit which is going to be made up of the HR Director, - as I mentioned, the post is there - the PAS responsible for HR, and working in cooperation with these institutions the HRDC, MITD and MQA. Donc, je pense qu’on est sur la même longueur d’onde.
Il faut faire comprendre que c’est un facteur important au niveau du ministère de l’Education concernant le développement des ressources humaines.
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Chairperson, on the same point. Je ne suis nullement sur la même longueur d’onde que le ministre. Which is which? The hon. Minister tells us there exist right now a HR Unit. We are being asked to vote hundreds of millions of rupees. I want to know, as at now, how can this be called a Ministry of Human Resources when it does not have a Human Resource Unit. If it does, I would like to be told who staffs that Unit, where are the positions on the staff positions outlined at page 352.
Dr. Bunwaree: If the hon. Member heard me well, I said that we are setting it up, and now we are structuring that Unit. We have people of the Ministry working in that Unit for the time being. Cela va prendre forme maintenant.
Mr Obeegadoo: Should I then suggest to the hon. Minister that before we vote the budget, he should ask that the name of the Ministry be changed, so that we delete Human Resources until it is set up?
Dr. Bunwaree: We are already doing the work. Seulement, c’est fait d’une façon intégrée dans le système. Mais là, on veut individualiser ce système.
Mr Obeegadoo: Can we ask the hon. Minister, before we vote this budget, to tell us how it is being integrated, how the work is already being done? I am putting it to the hon. Minister that, in fact, this Ministry has washed its hands of human resources for years now. Everything is with the HRDC.
The Chairperson: No. Wait a minute!
Dr. Bunwaree: Ce que vous dites n’est pas correct du tout.
The Chairperson: Please, no comment, no statement, no further speech on the Budget.
It is a question that you have to put.
Mr Obeegadoo: So, let me put the question again. The question is: why is it that we should vote hundreds of millions of rupees for this programme when, in actual fact, the Ministry has, to all intents and purposes, washed its hands of human resource development strategies in this country?
Dr. Bunwaree: No, this is not true. I don’t want to go into words that could hurt.
Ce n’est pas du tout ça. Le travail est fait d’une façon extrêmement importante, mais je sens moimême qu’il faut individualiser ce Unit, so that it is called the Human Resource Development Unit of the Ministry, tout comme pour le Special Needs c’est déjà set up. The HRDC has been working under the directives given by this Unit, and it is doing a marvellous job.
The Chairperson: We have to move. We have only five minutes for this Programme Code.
Programme Code 421: Policy and Management for Education and Human Resources (Rs227,428,000) was, on question put, agreed to.
Programme Code 422: Pre-Primary Education was called.
Mr Obeegadoo: I refer to page 340, Pre-Primary Education, Item No. 21 -
Compensation of Employees. Last year, and again this year I am raising the issue of alignment of conditions of employment of the dedicated staff of the pre-primary sector. Last year, when we voted the 2012 estimates, the hon. Minister gave assurances in this House that consultations were ongoing, discussions were ongoing, and that the matter would be sorted out. I would like to ask the hon. Minister why, a year later, we are being now asked to vote another budget of more than Rs200 m. whereas we are still in the same situation. Since the merging of the different categories of employees ten years ago, we still do not have uniformisation of conditions of employment, and that is creating tremendous frustration within the sector.
Dr. Bunwaree: I will, again, tell the hon. Member that the work has been done. On n’est pas resté les bras croisés ; on a même beaucoup avancé. A new organigram has already been worked out and submitted to PRB. Now we are in the process, and we have reassured the workers there. In fact, most of them will obtain satisfaction, but we have to probably wait a few weeks for that to be set up.
Mr Obeegadoo: The hon. Minister does not seem to be conversant with the issues, with all due respect. I am looking at terms, the years of service of these teachers, some of whom were employees of PTAs in the past, others of the Ministry, others still of the Pre-Primary Authority; years of service, pension rights and various other benefits attached to their employment. My question is: why should we now, again, just like last year, vote a budget when the assurances given to us last year have not been respected?
Dr. Bunwaree: No. Much has been done, Mr Chairperson. In 2012, three educators who were working on a contractual basis have been confirmed to permanent and pensionable basis after having passed their course in the proficiency certificate at the MIE. This was a condition.
There are two educators who, I believe, have not been successful, and they are still left out.
I will also say that for pre-primary, we have been working for the alignment of conditions of service. This is in progress and, as I said, only for two or three teachers, the problem is not yet settled. I am also informed that 184 School Attendants have been placed on permanent and pensionable establishment in 2012.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Chairperson, on page 340, Item No. 26323 – Capital Grant to Extra Budgetary Units - Early Childhood Care and Education, I see that for year 2012, a sum of Rs 10m. was earmarked, but we see for 2013 and 2014, it goes down to Rs5.5m. and then goes down again to Rs3.5m. Can we know why it is so when the hon. Minister is saying, at page 328, that he wants to ensure that all pre-primary schools offer quality education?
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, there is under-spending because the cost of construction of PPU at Rivière des Créoles Government School will be met from the Ministry’s budget. Il y a un budget pour le ECCEA, but there is the Ministry also. When the Ministry does, of course, there will be under-spending on the other side. Project value is Rs 5m. Programme 423 – Item No. 31112002 – Construction and Extension of Schools is being taken care of by the Ministry.
Mr Uteem: On page 328, Programme 422 – Major Services – Regulation and inspection of pre-primary schools (private and public). May I know from the hon. Minister how many people are attached to that Unit and how many inspections they have done in 2012?
Dr. Bunwaree: Inspection of schools?
Mr Uteem: Of pre-primary school.
Dr. Bunwaree: I need notice on this question. I am going to circulate it later.
Mr Obeegadoo: On page 340, Item No. 26323071 – Early Childhood Care and Education Authority (ECCEA) Public-Private Schools. Will the hon. Minister indicate who chairs this Authority and who is the Executive Director at the present time?
Dr. Bunwaree: The Executive Director is Mrs Kisnamah, and the Chairperson used to be the PS of my Ministry. A new Chairperson has been appointed about one week ago; Mr Madhukar Narayan.
Mr Obeegadoo: May I know the qualifications of this gentleman in the pre-primary sector?
Dr. Bunwaree: This gentleman has been one of their people for years and years, and he is no longer satisfied now!
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Chairperson, let us be serious!
The Chairperson: Silence! Put your question again!
Mr Obeegadoo: Yes, public opinion is noting this. The question I asked is: at a time we are being asked to vote Rs200 m. for this Authority, what are the qualifications of the new Chairperson? I am told “he has been one of your people for many years, and he is now frustrated”. And that is his qualification? Is that what the hon. Minister of Education is telling to the nation that those are the criteria upon which he selects a Chairperson for the Early Childhood Care and Education Authority?
Dr. Bunwaree: The hon. Member was asking whether he is qualified. Now the hon. Member is asking his qualifications! He is an Educator. He is a graduate, and he has got a lot experience in early childhood and primary also.
Programme Code 422: Pre-Primary Education (Rs201,150,000) was, on question put, agreed to Programme Code 423: Primary Education was called.
Mr Bhagwan: On the issue of primary education, I would like to ask the hon. Minister about two specific cases of primary schools in my constituency, which are directly linked with primary education. Can I ask the hon. Minister what is the follow-up concerning Barkly Government School?
The Chairperson: Under which item?
Mr Bhagwan: Vote 423 - Primary Education.
The Chairperson: We are under Programme No. 423.
Mr Bhagwan: Yes, primary education in general.
The Chairperson: Put your question!
Mr Bhagwan: I am asking the hon. Minister about the Barkly Government School.
He knows about the problems there. So, I would like to know whether he has received requests from the PTA and the inhabitants for an enlargement of that school. Is there a possibility of enlarging the school with the next door State land or whatever training school which exists there?
Secondly, there is also the very bad state Vel Govinden Government School. Its yard is a real danger for the children attending that school
The Chairperson: Your question relates to Item No. 31112402- Upgrading of Schools at page 341?
Mr Bhagwan: Yes, regarding Barkly.
Dr. Bunwaree: In fact, I have had many requests, including from the hon. Member.
There is a project for the extension of that primary school, construction of eight classrooms and a pre-primary unit. The project is already there. The project cost is Rs10.3 m. The start date was supposed to be in 2011 and to be completed by March 2012. I am informed that there is some retention money which remains to be paid. Consideration has been given to that school and to Vel Govinden Govt. School also. I must say that it is under consideration.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: On page 354, Item No. 42302 - Public Primary Schools, and Item No. 06 43 56 – Health and Physical Education Instructor. May I ask from the hon. Minister the number of primary schools that presently exist in Mauritius and the number of instructors that are already in service, and whether the number planned to be appointed next year, that is, 31, would be sufficient?
Dr. Bunwaree: It is certainly not sufficient, Mr Chairperson. We have a problem there, but what we are doing is clustering of schools. There is one physical instructor who is in charge of a cluster of schools. To make it more easy and practical, we have been trying to identify in each school someone from the staff who could support the school – someone who stays there and does not move to the other schools - and work under the direction of the instructor. We are trying to get more and more. Sometimes, when schools close down, we use the services of other members of the staff to be able to do that work, but we are giving as much as possible importance to that field. We would have wished to do more, but it is a question of budget. We are trying our best, and I hope that, in the course of next year, we will be able to find some other ways to have resource persons because many people want to help in that programme.
Mr Uteem: Mr Chairperson, on page 343, Item No. 31112002 – Construction and Extensions of Schools, (j) Others, and Item No. 31112402 – Upgrading of schools, (f) Others respectively. May I know from the hon. Minister whether any provision under these two items has been made in relation to any school in Constituency No. 2, particularly in respect of Labourdonnais Government School where there is a problem of sewerage?
Dr. Bunwaree: Drain! Yes, I know this problem well. I have visited that school myself on two occasions in the course of the present year. Some works are being done. With regard to the drain so far, I know there are some difficulties because it is not only the school which is involved, it is la région autour. We are working hard to clarify this, but some works have already been done. There has been improvement in that school but, of course, we have to monitor to see whether more has to be done and in which way we are going to do it.
Mr Baloomoody: Can I ask the hon. Minister, under Item No. 31122 - other Machinery and Equipment at page 343, whether provision has been made in the Budget to have drinking water in all the primary schools during school days?
Dr. Bunwaree: So far I know, the situation is rather satisfactory, but we do have
problems from time to time in certain places, and that point is very important. In fact, it is not functioning the way I would have liked it to. But, here also, it involves a lot of resources. We keep the water tanks as far as possible, in the best way we can, and they are kept under control.
They are verified regularly, and tests are carried out on a regular basis in all schools to see the quality of water that is being given to the children.
Mr Lesjongard: Mr Chairperson, on page 341, under Item No. 28211040 – PTA
(Primary Schools), can I ask the hon. Minister how many PTAs are concerned, and on what basis these sums are disbursed to those PTAs?
Dr. Bunwaree: En pratique, cela doit être pour les PTAs de toutes les écoles; on ne fait pas deux poids deux measures. The information that I have been given is that the grant is, first of all, a per capita grant, which is based on the number of pupils enrolled in the schools and could be used for such expenses as Independence and Republic Day celebrations, the rate being Rs3 per pupil. There is also a basic grant which is fixed and intended for meeting the cost of minor repairs; the quantum is as follows –
• one stream schools Rs2,000;
• two stream schools Rs2,500, and
• three stream schools Rs3,000.
There is also a matching grant. This grant is based on the amount of funds raised by the school of the preceding financial year, and could be used for such projects as identified by the PTA.
The ceiling of the grant is as follows -
(1) One stream – Rs 10,000;
(2) Two streams – Rs 12,000, and
(3) Three streams – Rs15,000.
There are some conditions, of course, attached to the grant. PTAs are eligible to benefit from the grant on the condition that the PTA is fully registered with the Registrar of Association, that it produces audited accounts showing evidence that the funds have been used for the benefit of the schools. The accounts will be available for verification by the Ministry when required.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Chairperson, on page 341, Item No. 22070 - Cleaning Services, can the Minister say how that sum of Rs21 m. has been used? Whether he has had resort to private contractors, who has been awarded the tender, whether he is satisfied that the services have been good? Because we all know that, in primary schools, children are still complaining about l’état des toilettes.
Dr. Bunwaree: Cleaning services include cleaning of toilets and cleaning of premises in all primary schools and, under the Estimates, Rs21m. were provided last year.
As regards cleaning of toilets, the contract was awarded to Mauri Clean Ltd with effect from 15 July 2009 for a 3-year contract, renewable for two subsequent periods of 12 months on satisfaction of performance of works by heads of sections during the preceding year. The contract expired on 15 July 2012, and the Ministry decided that ad hoc labour be employed and paid to PTA of schools to carry out cleaning of toilets of schools and institutions as from that date, that is, 16 July. The work is being carried out to the satisfaction, I must say, of the heads of schools. Mieux qu’auparavant.
Insofar as cleaning of premises is concerned - the scope of the cleaning -, the cleaning of premises of schools and institutions starts from the entrance and covers all areas of the compound. The contract for the four zones was awarded to Service Maison Ltée with effect from 01 July 2010, for a 3-year contract, renewable for two subsequent periods of 12 months, again on satisfaction of performance of work by heads of sections during the preceding year.
The contract has been terminated in the three zones: 1, 3 and 4 with effect from 01 July 2011 due to unsatisfactory services provided by the contractor. Since the services of Service Maison Ltée was satisfactory in zone 2, the contract was renewed for 1-year period with effect from 01 July 2012, and will expire on 30 June 2013.
Number of schools serviced by that company: 73; contract value: Rs 6,049,220, and insofar as zones 1, 3 and 4 are concerned, following an open advertised bidding, contracts were awarded on a lot wise basis with effect from 18 July 2012 to Mauri Clean and New Cleaning Service Ltd. The contract was for a period of 12 months and renewable on an annual basis.
Mr Baloomoody: On page 343, under Item Upgrading of Schools: Others, in reply to a PQ, the hon. Minister informed us that part of the Renganaden Seeneevassen School at Cassis will have to be demolished in view of the construction of the harbour bridge. May I know whether provision has been made in his Budget for that demolition and reconstruction of other departments?
Dr. Bunwaree: No, discussions are ongoing with the PTA there. We have not provided for demolition of the school at this point in time, and I don't think that during the course of the year we are going to go along these lines.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: On the same page, under Item 22090 - Security Services, may I know from the hon. Minister whether these services were provided by private companies and, again, which companies are involved? What type of contracts was made?
Dr. Bunwaree: Again, Mr Chairperson, there is a contract, and the contractor is required to provide watch and security services in primary schools, State Secondary Schools and other institutions of the Ministry as follows –
From 15:30 hours to 8.00 hours the following days: Mondays to Fridays, 24-hour coverage; Saturdays, Sundays, public holidays and on days during cyclonic conditions and whenever the sites have to be closed, for instance, during sports activities and for any reason as decided by the Ministry.
Concerning the present contract, following an open advertised bidding, the contract for security services has been awarded to RSL Security Services Ltd with effect from 01 July 2012 for a period of 12 months renewable for two subsequent periods of 12 months, subject to the Ministry being satisfied with the performance of works during the preceding period. The contract has been renewed for a further period of 12 months as from 01July 2012, and will expire on 30 June 2013.
The Ministry is closely monitoring the performance of the contractor, which is, I must say, according to people of my Ministry, satisfactory up to now. Thefts in schools have decreased quite considerably.
Mr Uteem: Mr Chairperson, at page 342, under Item 22120025 - Fees to oriental language teachers, there is a sum of Rs28 m. budgeted for each of the coming three years. May I know from the hon. Minister why are we budgeting such a fee and why are we not creating substantial position for oriental language teachers instead?
Dr. Bunwaree: According to Government policy, the main concern of the evening schools is to give great importance to the preservation of the ancestral languages of Mauritius.
Languages taught are, therefore, oriental languages, and the classes are held during weekdays, Monday to Friday in the evening, or Saturdays and Sundays. The minimum number of hours per month is 12, and the allowance is paid as per qualifications. Those holding School Certificate: Rs 1,000, those holding Higher School Certificate: Rs1,500 and Degree Holder: Rs2,000.
There is a condition attached to that. The teacher:pupil ratio must be 1:5. There is a Zonal Monitoring Committee which has been set up in each zone to drive the whole system. It is chaired by the Director or Assistant Director of the Principal School Inspectors and Senior Inspectors, Desk Officers and Visiting Officers of each language on a fortnightly basis. I think I have answered the question. There seems to be a decrease in the number of schools and teachers.
This is because pupils are often taken up by other activities at schools such as enhancement period. They are not substantive positions.
Mr Obeegadoo: At page 335, Zone d'Éducation Prioritaire (ZEP), Programme-Based Budgeting, we vote monies as a function of targets. How can we vote the budget proposed to us for ZEP when, up till 2015, according to what is at page 335, the target for CPE pass rate for ZEP schools is 37.5%? How can we be asked to vote a budget for ZEP schools when this Minister and this Government are condemning ZEP children - 65% thereof - to fail CPE up till 2015?
Dr. Bunwaree: Je ne suis pas d’accord avec ce que dit l’honorable membre. J’ai déjà expliqué plusieurs fois à cette Chambre que le concept est bon, mais seulement il y a aussi le niveau ZEP dans les ZEP schools. On a pris la décision de donner un repas chaud, mais il y a quelque chose qui me fatigue à l’intérieur de mon coeur. On va donner aux enfants des ZEP schools un repas chaud, mais il y a des enfants dans d’autres écoles qui ont le niveau ZEP je dirais. Je vais essayer de voir ce que je peux faire pour eux. Donc, ce n’est pas bon d’aller dans le sens que l’honorable membre est en train de dire. On est en train de faire beaucoup de progrès, et je dois aussi annoncer que parmi les ZEP schools qui ont été répertoriées dès le départ, il y a au moins un tiers qui ne qualifie plus, je dois dire, comme les ZEP schools, mais seulement on est en train de les maintenir encore parce qu’on ne peut pas enlever cette discrimination positive brusquement. On est en train de faire beaucoup pour les ZEP schools, et je ne vois pas comment l’honorable membre peut raisonner comme cela.
The Chairperson: Last question, Mrs Hanoomanjee.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: On page 341, Item 22070 - Cleaning Services, I just heard the Minister saying that he has had to resort to the services of ad hoc labour. Can I ask the Minister clarification on the mode of recruitment of that ad hoc labour which he mentioned for the cleaning services of toilets?
Dr. Bunwaree: It is worked out by the PTA de concert avec les représentants du ministère. Usually, they decide among themselves, but I have already noted that there are some positive results, better that what existed before. Dans certains cas, ils peuvent faire appel à quelques personnes intéressées et trouver qui sera le meilleur; dans d’autres cas, ils peuvent décider par eux-mêmes.
Programme Code 423: Primary Education (Rs3,522,375,000) was, on question put, agreed to.
Programme Code 424: Secondary Education was called.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr Chairperson, at page 356, Sub Programme 42403:
Management of Secondary Education, Item No. 06 59 71 - Pedagogical Inspector.
May I ask the hon. Minister the number of pedagogical inspectors that are presently in service, the number of schools that they will have to visit?
Dr. Bunwaree: For secondary schools, we don’t have many pedagogical inspectors.
There are about four, but the project makes provision for some more to be appointed. This, I must say, is a weakness – I thank the hon. Member for this question - and I have been pressing.
In fact, this is why we have got Quality Assurance Officers that are going to be appointed this year. I think we have got eight on top of the four that are already existent.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: May I ask the hon. Minister whether the Quality Assurance Officers at the Human Resource Department will be working in collaboration with the pedagogical inspectors at the Ministry of Education for the secondary schools?
Dr. Bunwaree: They will certainly have to work in collaboration.
Mr Obeegadoo: Page 335, Programme 424: Secondary Education - Outcome Indicators - does the Minister agree that education up to age 16 is compulsory in this country?
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes.
Mr Obeegadoo: If so, can he explain how we are voting a budget which provides that, in 2013, at best, as per the target, only 60% of our children in the mainstream will attain Form V and only 78% of children in pre-vocational education will complete the pre-voc cycle? How can we have compulsory education and a supposedly tracking mechanism when children are being allowed to drop out?
Dr. Bunwaree: These are problems that have existed for quite some time y compris quand mon ami était ministre de l’Education. Je n’ai pas les chiffres en tête ; c’était surement pire, mais on a pris des mesures intéressantes, et on espère que ces mesures apporteront des résultats positifs. Beaucoup de choses sont en train d’être réalisées au niveau de l’éducation secondaire. On a introduit l’examen en forme III. Il y a un assessment qui a déjà été fait, un deuxième en cours qui nous donne des résultants extrêmement probants. Il faut attendre pour que les résultats soient plus plausibles.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr Chairperson, on page 357, Item No. 06 25 52 -
Educational Social Worker, I find that we have eight educational social workers already in function in the public secondary schools. May I ask the Minister whether such educational social workers will also be attributed to the private secondary sector?
Dr. Bunwaree: The answer is yes.
Mr Obeegadoo: At page 347, Item No. 26210152 - Contribution to OECD (Programme for International Student Assessment), last year we were told by the Minister that there was going to be participation in the PISA exercise in 2012. Yet there were no funds voted, and for next year we are being asked to vote Rs1.6 m. I would like to know whether we have already participated in a PISA assessment.
Are the results available, and if so, will they be made public?
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, indeed, I did mention that last year, Mr Chairperson, Sir. PISA is an international study, for the knowledge of hon. Members. They are launched by OECD in 1997, and it assesses how fast students of 15 years of age have acquired the knowledge and skills in the domain of reading literacy, mathematical literacy and scientific literacy for full participation in society. Mauritius did participate in PISA in 2010. The objective of PISA is not to compare the academic performance of students. It assesses the extent to which the students are able to apply knowledge and skills in key areas to analyse reason and communicate effectively as they examine, interpret and solve problems. The PISA Survey for Mauritius has been completed with a view to bringing improvement to the situation in three domains. The Ministry will set up specific sub-committees comprising all stakeholders, with well defined terms of reference, to make concrete recommendations for implementation. On a eu le rapport il n’y a pas très
longtemps. Implementation of recommendations of PISA will complement ongoing educational reform process.
Mr Obeegadoo: My question, Mr Chairperson, was: we are being asked to vote Rs1.6 m. again for next year. If a report is ready, I am asking the hon. Minister whether he will he agree to laying a copy thereof on the Table of the Assembly for information of Members of Parliament.
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes. But then, to avoid confusion, I will certainly lay a copy of the executive summary.
Mr Obeegadoo: We are being asked to vote a lot of money for this. Why can the report not be made public, so that representatives of the people here, in this Chamber, can take cognizance thereof?
Dr. Bunwaree: The executive summary will sum up because there is comparison. I can ask the hon. Member to come and meet me to see the report himself. I have been advised to lay the copy of the executive summary.
Mr Obeegadoo: Is the hon. Minister not aware that in all the developed countries, PISA Reports are made public for everybody, all educators to see and draw conclusions?
Dr. Bunwaree: Not necessary! When the hon. Member comes to my office, he will see the report. Then he will know the reasons.
Mr Roopun: The question is of a general nature. Concerning the underperformance of boys at all levels of education, could we know what measures are being taken to deal with this specific problem?
The Chairperson: I am sorry! Under what item or what number the hon. Member is referring to?
Mr Roopun: I am referring to page 326, Major constraints and challenges.
Dr. Bunwaree: We have noticed that there is problem concerning boys insofar as their academic performances are concerned. There is a study on gender equality in learning outcomes that is being carried out, and the objective is to achieve gender equality in learning outcomes. I must say, Mr Chairperson, that gender equality refers to the notion of boys and girls experiencing the same advantages and disadvantages in attending schools, receiving teaching methods, curricula and academic orientation, and producing equal learning achievements and subsequent life opportunities. The performance of boys is found to be lagging behind that of girls at all levels. Je dois dire que c’est plus pour Maurice que pour Rodrigues. A Rodrigues, il y a plus ou moins une sorte d’équilibre.
Tant mieux pour eux! For Mauritius, boys are lagging behind. At primary school level, boys are found to have lower reading skills than girls. There is a larger proportion of boys among repeaters and in the pre-vocational classes. It is pertinent to remain alert on the issue, so as to address the fundamental issue of equity and how we cannot rely only on tuition to address the issue of underperformance of boys. There is need for empirical evidence, and it is proposed that a study be conducted to identify the root causes of this gender difference. A sum of Rs1 m. has been earmarked for the study.
Mr Obeegadoo: I take it we are still on Programme 424, Sir. I refer to page 357, staffing positions in public secondary schools. Mr Chairperson, when I left the Ministry, there were some 70 secondary schools, and I take it none of them has been closed. How is it that we have only 54 positions of Rector this year and only 62 for next year? How can the hon. Minister assure the House that funds we are being asked to vote will be utilised, so that there is one Rector per school, and that the Rector be guaranteed, at least, tenure of five years in each school in the interest of stability?
Dr. Bunwaree: I am not against, but there is a system, and to change the system is not so easy.
Je veux bien, mais il y aura un cri extraordinaire. On essaie de faire cela petit à petit. Pourquoi il faut changer de recteur ? Laissez un recteur dans son école ! Si on veut bien, on va aller dans cette direction, on va faire tout le monde comprendre. Je suis content d’avoir entendu l’honorable membre dire cela.
The Chairperson: Allow the hon. Minister to answer!
Dr. Bunwaree: I am informed there are 62 State schools and there is, of course, one Rector per school. Many schools have got Deputy Rectors as well.
Programme Code 424: Secondary Education (Rs6,941,814,000) was, on question put, agreed to.
Programme Code 425: Technical and Vocational Education and Training was called.
Mr Roopun: May I, on item 425, Mr Chairperson, ask a question of a general nature?
The Chairperson: Wait a minute! Do not go very fast! Not of a general nature, but on a specific item!
Mr Roopun: Yes. I am making reference to three items at page 325 regarding Major achievements. I do not see much has been mentioned about technical and educational training.
No major constraint appears at page 326, and also as to the strategic direction at page 327 I see mere generalities. Could the hon. Minister give us some clear guidelines and objectives about how he intends to deal with the technical, vocational and educational training, especially in the light of the youth unemployment?
The Chairperson: Technical and vocational education.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Chairperson, the institution that is responsible for this, the MITD, is implementing the following measures in line with a strategic direction 2013-2015 - it is good to know that. Firstly, the development of a business plan for MITD to emerge as a regional training of trainers centre. Secondly, the project proposals for setting up two new training centres, namely at Triolet and Ville Noire, Mahebourg, have been submitted. The training programmes of MITD are being aligned with the National Qualifications Framework based on unit standards. As at date, a total of 47 courses out of 73 have already been aligned with the NQF. New training programmes at National Certificate Level IV and V and National Diploma levels have been introduced to promote further training and provide pathways for progression to higher level courses to MITD trainees, and upskilling of persons already in employment. Greater emphasis on promotion of training under the apprenticeship scheme, integration of sustainable development in TVET courses, collaboration with other organisations such as the Ministry of Labour, the National Empowerment Programme, the HRDC on training and placement programmes, and the MITD to embark on training programmes to train from the region and enhance its visibility and revenue generating capacity. The MITD is poised to be a leading institution in this part of the Indian Ocean. There is a strategic direction that has been established, and I would wish to ask the hon. Member to take cognizance of this.
Mr Baloomoody: We are asked to vote a block grant to the MITD without giving any details about how it is going to be spent. Can we have details from the hon. Minister of the expenditure, especially with regard to the staff? Can we have a definition, probably of what they mean about physical education of MITD, the instructors especially?
Dr. Bunwaree: I can, for the information of the hon. Member, lay the breakdown on the Table of the Assembly.
If the hon. Member does not know what physical education is, I regret. But the MITD, Mr Chairperson, is doing a very good job, and I would wish to call on hon. Members to be very careful when they talk. The students who go there are usually deprived persons, and it is not because of that that we are going to look down upon them.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: I just heard the hon. Minister saying that MITD will have two
centres in Triolet and Ville Noire. Can I ask him when he will consider having centres in areas like Surinam and Bambous? I would like to know whether it is envisaged because those are areas where there are people who need MITD centres, but where no consideration is being given.
Dr. Bunwaree: I fully agree with the hon. Member. We are looking into this aspect.
The population sometimes poses problem because we do not have the amount needed. But concerning these two schools that have been mentioned, at Ville Noire, Mahebourg, there is already a school. That school will be closed, and a new one will be opened. Those are schools that we are calling green MITD schools.
The concept is different from the other MITD schools.
They are special. But what the hon. Member is talking about is to set up training centres in deprived areas. I am all for, and I will discuss with any Member who would wish to find ways and means to help the children and students in these deprived areas to be able to get courses from the MITD.
Mr Roopun: Mr Chairperson, may I be given certain details about the courses run by the MITD, the number of students enrolled, the length of training, and also the percentage of those who eventually get employed? Do you have statistics?
Dr. Bunwaree: Concerning the percentage of students who get employment readily – I am just talking out of memory - it is more than 60% to 65%. I think I better circulate all the data that have been asked by the hon. Member because there are quite a number of figures.
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Chairperson, I would like to make a motion at this stage. I refer to page 350, where we are being asked to vote a provision of Rs395 m. in favour of the MITD. I would like to move that this amount be reduced by a symbolical amount of Rs10, recognising the importance of funds to be provided, and I would like to explain why. I am moving because it has come to light, over a recent past, that there has been grave mismanagement and utter incompetence in the running of the MITD, as exemplified by three cases.
First, the case of a lady who did not have appropriate qualifications was registered, including with the MQA, and allowed to work at the MITD. Second, the case where there have been allegations of grave improprieties against an instructor – I say allegations; we are not here to judge -, and yet the authorities, despite being in presence of very serious reports by independent professionals, chose not to act and to sit on the file. Third, the widespread allegations of partisan activities in the recruitment of unqualified staff, as denounced by the Trade Unions of the MITD, and for which the Minister has not yet provided any response. So, in the circumstances, and as a measure of grave concern of Members of this Parliament and of the public at large, I would like to formally move that the budget of the MITD be reduced by a symbolical amount of Rs10.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Chairperson, I wish to inform the House that there has been a way of doing there in the last few months, and I myself mentioned in this House that I am not satisfied with the way things are going. I have frozen all promotions;
I have frozen all the papers that were being sent to the Board for people on temporary basis to be made permanent because we have noticed, in fact, a lot of things that are unacceptable. There was definitely mismanagement.
But I have said we have a new person who is going to chair the Council. He has been appointed by Government last week and we are, in fact, finding more and more discrepancies in the way things have been done, but the hon. Member is bringing the unions in. I would not like to go into this debate because I can also retaliate, and then the hon. Member will find that there are things that would be better to take cognizance of before coming in this House and saying things. I would wish the hon. Members to be made aware that a very profound transformation of the MITD is taking place. Maybe it is due to the fact that it was new, it was in a transitional period, and they had a council there. We wanted them to do the job, they had to discuss with the unions, they had to set up the new work programme at the MITD. There are so many things. But I will completely deny the fact that there has been partisan. I have given the names of people who have been employed at the MITD from the date that has been mentioned. In fact, I am going to submit to this House the names of all those who have been employed at the MITD since its creation, and then all Members will see for themselves.
Mr Obeegadoo: Can we clarify? Is the hon. Minister speaking in favour of the motion?
That is the impression gathered.
Dr. Bunwaree: I thought we are talking to intelligent people. I am saying that I am
myself not satisfied, but I myself have proposed this budget. So, the budget is there, and we are putting order at the MITD. In fact, we need more funds. We have not obtained the funds we really needed to be able to do what we want to do. But I am proposing the hon. Member not to go into that direction.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: On the same line of thought, can I ask the Minister to …
The Chairperson: No. We are debating a motion of hon. Obeegadoo.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: To support the motion, and on the same line of thought, can I ask the Minister whether …
The Chairperson: The hon. Member can put question, but should not put in arguments.
Mr Roopun: Mr Chairperson, I am glad to hear the hon. Minister, in fact, conceding that there are serious shortcomings at the MITD, and I think that a symbolical reduction of Rs10 could give the right signal to that institution. We will also try to explain the concern of this House about the way MITD is being run.
Dr. Bunwaree: I wish to add, Mr Chairperson, that there is a report that we are expecting from the Conciliation and Mediation Commission that has been set up, presided by Professor Thorul. In fact, I am waiting for this report to be able to take further action. But I am not going on the line of the hon. Member.
Mr Obeegadoo: May I just state that I wish to maintain the motion on the grounds that it is undue influence by the Ministry that is at the root of all the evils and problems at the MITD.
The Chairperson: The question is that the sum of Rs395 m. to be appropriated for the MITD be reduced by Rs10.
On question put, motion defeated.
Mr Roopun: Since the motion has not been retained and …
The Chairperson: Silence, please!
I say silence now! Silence! I want to hear hon. Roopun. Please, some order!
Mr Roopun: We heard the hon. Minister himself stating that he is not satisfied with the amount which has been appropriated for MITD.
Dr. Bunwaree: No, I never said that.
The Chairperson: Wait a minute! The question has been put and the vote taken.
Dr. Bunwaree: Don’t put words in my mouth.
Mr Roopun: Regarding the amount which we are called upon to vote, can we have
details about the amount of Rs394 m. and how it has been reached? I am not on the motion. I want to have details about how the sum appearing on page 350, Rs395 m., is arrived at. The grant of Rs395 m. is composed of what?
The Chairperson: If I may draw the attention of the hon. Member to the fact that, under Item 26, all the details are already there - Current Grant and so on and so forth.
Mr Roopun: I want to have details about the amount of Rs395 m. At page 350, at the top, the grant is Rs395 m., and the hon. Minister stated that he is himself not satisfied with the lump sum given to him! I want to know how that sum is arrived at. Could the hon. Minister give us some details about it?
Dr. Bunwaree: I cannot give it offhand. I need notice of this question, but I will
certainly give it to the hon. Member. I have already circulated the figures that the hon. Member mentioned just now, but if he needs more than that I will give it to him. No problem. I can again circulate how we have come to the various figures mentioned in the estimates.
The Chairperson: Anyway, I want to make it clear that 2012 is not yet over.
Mr Roopun: I have a further question. At page 358, under Programme Code 425, I do not find any detail about the staffing position. Could the hon. Minister give us details about the staffing at the MITD?
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, I will circulate that, Mr Chairperson. I will circulate as well how the estimates for 2013 have been worked out (Appendix I).
Mr Obeegadoo: Will the Minister tell us, according to his enquiries, how many persons employed at the MITD are not qualified for the positions they hold, since he has informed the unions that they are now going to sit for the School Certificate exams to gain the qualifications required?
Dr. Bunwaree: I replied to that question which was put to me by the hon. Member.
I never said that. Of course, I do not think there are people who are not qualified, but the way they work there, the recruitment procedures are different from other places. Everything has followed procedures. I have mentioned that many times. To answer the question of hon. Roopun, I am informed that staffing for parastatals does not appear in estimates usually. But I will circulate the list (Appendix II).
Programme Code 425: Technical and Vocational Education and Training
(Rs395,400,000) was, on question put, agreed to.
Programme Code 428: Special Education Needs of School Age Children was called.
Mr Obeegadoo: Sir, I refer to page 337, Programme Code 428, Outcome Indicator - Percentage of children with special needs enrolled in schools. I remember the Minister stating, when he became Minister, that he cared for children, he was a doctor, and would ensure that all children are in schools. How does he, therefore, reconcile that statement with the fact that, despite the budget which we are going to vote, the target for 2013 is that less than two-thirds of children with special educational needs will be enrolled in schools, and how can he explain that, at page 358, we have only a skeleton staff for special educational needs education in 2013?
Dr. Bunwaree: I must inform the House, Mr Chairperson, that for special education needs on fait un effort monstrueux, mais les moyens manquent toujours. Les moyens ne sont jamais suffisants pour pouvoir faire le travail comme on le voudrait. Un chiffre a été mentionné, mais cela ne veut pas dire qu’on va se fier à ce target. Ce target a été mis pour pouvoir examiner the performance that we have reached l’année suivante. So, we decide on a target. This does not mean qu’on va se fixer là-dessus. Je dois dire que pour les special education needs, depuis l’année dernière on a demandé, exigé, et fait le forcing pour que les parents qui ont des enfants ayant des besoins spéciaux pour l’école, à l’âge de cinq ans, viennent se faire enregistrer. Ce projet a été un succès, parce que nous avons eu plus de cinquante enfants sur l’ensemble du pays qu’on a pu récupérer ; sinon ces enfants auraient continué à rester à la maison.
Mr Chairperson, I mentioned at the beginning that, under Capacity Building, we are trying to do the best we can to put into action what we have in mind and what we have in our programme.
Mrs Ribot: Mr Chairperson, I am referring to page 350, Item No. 28211 - Other Current Transfers to non-profit Institutions. Could the hon. Minister table the list of non-profit institutions that are receiving grants?
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, I will table that.
Mr Obeegadoo: I would like to ask the Minister whether he has the figures for the per capita spending by the State on children with special educational needs as opposed to the per capita allocation to able-bodied children.
Dr. Bunwaree: That figure does exist. It is not with me, but I will certainly give it to the hon. Member. If I can get it immediately I will give it. I am circulating the list of NGOs. The per capita has been worked out. I do not have it in mind, but I expect to give it to the hon. Member as soon as it is ready.
Mr Obeegadoo: Can the Minister please give us an indication? Are we at long last at par? Are children with special educational needs getting, at least, as much as able-bodied children?
Dr. Bunwaree: Insofar as I am concerned, there should be positive discrimination.
They should get more. But I do not have the figure. As soon as I get it, I will give it to the hon. Member.
Mrs Ribot: Mr Chairperson, I would like the hon. Minister to give us a list of criteria according to which those non-profit institutions qualify for the grants.
The Chairperson: Under which item, please?
Mrs Ribot: Item No. 28211 on page 350.
Dr. Bunwaree: I think I will need notice of this question.
Mr Obeegadoo: Could the hon. Minister, at least, tell us how many institutions presently benefit from that grant?
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, as I said, I am circulating the paper.
Mrs Ribot: Mr Chairperson, the hon. Minister replied that he needed notice for that question. I suppose that there are non-profit institutions that are already benefiting from those grants. I would like to know according to which criteria they are qualifying for those grants.
Mr Obeegadoo: On the same point, surely the Minister comes with a brief for the
Committee of Supply, and he has his staff here. The practice has been for staff to provide Ministers with additional information. Before we vote the Budget, at least, we are entitled to know where that money is going.
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, I should give the criteria, but I am saying that I do not have them offhand. If I get them, I will give. There is a list of criteria. In any case, I will submit it to the House.
The Chairperson: Any more question?
Anyway, the hon. Minister has undertaken to give the criteria.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Chairperson, I said I will submit, but I am being informed that there are clearances to be obtained from the authorities.
Mr Chairperson: Okay.
Programme Code 428: Special Education Needs of School Age Children (Rs52,793,000) was, on question put, agreed to.
Programme Code 429: Human Resource Development was called.
Mr Obeegadoo: I refer to page 338, again on the performance indicators, on subprogramme 42903 – School Staff Development, Research and Curriculum Development. We are provided with absolute numbers of educators from pre-primary to secondary that are trained.
These figures do not tell us anything unless we have the percentages. So, my question to the hon. Minister is: how did these figures translate into percentages? What percentages of our educators or teachers in 2011 were actually trained? What is the target for 2013 percentagewise?
Dr. Bunwaree: The training of educators is an ongoing process. I must say that the system also is changing because now the training does not take place at one place, which was known to be the MIE. There is online training. The figures are worked out differently, not as they were worked out before.
Mr Obeegadoo: The hon. Minister does not seem to understand. The Ministry of Education has always produced figures, telling us that X percent of pre-primary teachers are trained - primary is always 100 percent -, Y percent of secondary school teachers are trained. All that I am asking is, instead of these targets that do not tell us anything, whether the hon. Minister can express these figures in percentages. I am sure that the hon. Minister has looked at his brief before the session, and that he has the percentages.
Dr. Bunwaree: I have mentioned that these figures are being looked into differently. I will give the routine figures. But this is different now. Training is taking place even in the other regions. I am not in a position to give the hon. Member figures if they are not ready yet.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Chairperson, on page 329, priority objectives. I see that the objective is to ensure that every student is equipped with the necessary information to make informed choices. We know that there is up to now a complete mismatch between jobs available and qualifications …
The Chairperson: Please, put your question because time is running out.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: I am explaining to come to my question. On page 359, it seems to be as if there is a skeleton staff at the level of Principal Careers Officer and Senior Careers Officer. How can the hon. Minister explain this?
Dr. Bunwaree: It is a question of finding the funds. We always fight, but we do not get all that we want.
Mrs Ribot: Mr Chairperson, I would like the hon. Minister to explain how is it that the staff seems to remain the same with the recommendations of the PRB coming in January, and the personal emoluments have had a decrease?
Dr. Bunwaree: There should be some reasons for that. I believe there are people going and not being replaced. There are other people who are being promoted and others, for some reason or another, are leaving the sector.
The Chairperson: Hon. Obeegadoo, please!
Dr. Bunwaree: The decrease in provision is because MIE will be using part of its
reserves to meet its recurrent expenditure. This is the difficulty we have because we are in crisis still. We did not get all the funds that we asked for.
Mr Uteem: Mr Chairperson, on page 351, under Item 28 – Other Expenses, sub-item 28212008 – Scholarship to Foreign Students. I see that the amount of Rs620,000 budgeted is constant; it is the same in 2012, and will be the same in 2014 and 2015. May I know from the hon. Minister whether that takes into account the 50 or so additional scholarships which the Minister of Finance has announced for foreign students?
Dr. Bunwaree: No, Mr Chairperson.
Mr Uteem: Was it budgeted for additional scholarships?
Dr. Bunwaree: The additional scholarships that we have announced?
Mr Uteem: The amount which the hon. Minister of Finance has announced.
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, this is budgeted, but it is not the same that the hon. Member is talking about. This one is for foreigners.
Mr Uteem: And the additional scholarships?
Dr. Bunwaree: The scholarships we have announced are for Mauritians, not for foreigners.
Mr Uteem: In the Budget Speech, the hon. Minister of Finance announced additional scholarships to foreigners to come and study in Mauritius. So, this is why I want to know where it is budgeted.
Dr. Bunwaree: This is tertiary.
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Chairperson, on page 338, sub-programme 42903: School Staff Development, Research and Curriculum Development – SS2: Course contents digitised for Primary and Secondary classes. Again, I don’t understand these targets set by the Ministry. Are we to understand that, in 2011, all the course contents for Standard IV have been digitised and are presently available?
Dr. Bunwaree: So far, the answer is yes for core subjects, oriental languages and so on.
Je pense que l’honorable membre doit avoir un choc en m’entendant dire cela.
Quand il a fait son discours, j’ai bien écouté parce que cela parait lointain et inacceptable.
J’avais dit dans mon discours que tous les cours des enfants de quatrième dans les core subjects sont maintenant dans le langage digital - qui est en train d’être utilisé. L’année prochaine, ce sera pour les enfants de la quatrième et cinquième aussi.
Mr Obeegadoo: The tablet PCs being made available in Form IV!
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes.
Mr Obeegadoo: So, should we understand that it is the digitised course material for Standard IV that will be offered to those who get tablets in Form IV?
Dr. Bunwaree: The hon. Member should not mix issues. He asked a question for
Standard IV. I am saying that for Standard IV, the answer is yes. Even for Standard V, it will be coming soon. For Form IV, we are working on that.
M. le président, il faut savoir qu’on a réussi à faire cela dans l’espace d’un an pour deux classes. Je donne la garantie à cette Chambre qu’on le fera rapidement parce qu’on a toutes les ressources nécessaires, les compétences nécessaires pour réaliser ce qu’on est en train de dire pour la Forme IV. Je donne la garantie à cette Chambre. L’honorable membre va encore avoir un choc.
Mr Obeegadoo: Let us be clear. Is the hon. Minister telling us that in 2013 all the course materials for Form IV in all the subjects offered in secondary schools in Mauritius will be digitised in anticipation of provision of tablet PCs in 2013?
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes! It will go along a transitional line. On va donner les tablettes tactiles en février ; on va commencer avec certains cours, mais jusqu’à la fin de l’année le projet serait réalisé.
Mrs Ribot: Mr Chairperson, I will come back to the same question again. On page 338, the number of scholarships awarded to needy students seems to be going up. The target for 2013 is 1,165 against 763 in 2011. Yet the budget seems to be going down. I would like to understand something out of it.
Dr. Bunwaree: The scholarships are, in fact, going up. The budget is going down probably because the budget has not been utilised completely. This is an ongoing business, and it is clear that we are increasing the number of scholarships as much as possible.
Mr Obeegadoo: Can the hon. Minister tell us how much of the 2012 budget has gone underutilised?
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, I will certainly give the figure. I don’t have it at hand. The hon. Member should give me notice. But even if he doesn’t give me notice, I will give it to him.
Mr Chairperson, I can circulate all details concerning scholarships that have been given for this year - toutes les bourses à tous les niveaux pour cette année.
Mr Uteem: Mr Chairperson, on page 351, under Item No. 28212 - Other Current Transfers to Household Scholarships, we are budgeting a lot of money to pay for scholarships.
May I know from the hon. Minister if he has the figures of the number of laureates that do not come back to Mauritius after completion of their studies?
Dr. Bunwaree: We have been working on that, Mr Chairperson. It is not easy because some do come back and then go, and some do not come back at all; some come back after a long period of time, and Government has taken a decision, in fact, to allow the scholars to continue their studies the way they want. But there is a bond which is attached to it. We are looking into this question of bond also.
Mr François: Regarding the same item, may I know the quota for Rodrigues under the Additional Scholarships, please?
Dr. Bunwaree: The quota for Rodrigues has not changed, but the Prime Minister has announced a number of scholarships that is being worked out. This is not the additional scholarship, but it is other types of scholarships that are going to be given.
Programme Code 429: Human Resource Development (Rs439,208,000) was, on question put, agreed to.
The Chairperson: I suspend for one hour fifteen minutes.
At 1.06 p.m. the sitting was suspended.
RENGANADEN SEENEEVASSEN PRIMARY SCHOOL - HARBOUR BRIDGE PROJECT (21/05/13)
(No. B/360) Mr J. C. Barbier (Second Member for GRNW & Port Louis West) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources whether, in regard to the Harbour Bridge Project, he will state if the Renganaden Seeneevassen Primary School of Les Salines will be concerned therewith and, if so, how, indicating the actions taken in relation thereto.
Reply: I am informed that, in regard to the Harbour Bridge Project, a portion of an extent of 4,112 m2 out of a total of 10,410 m2 of the Renganaden Seeneevassen Government School would be concerned. This portion, where two classroom blocks and a toilet block are situated, has been retrieved from my Ministry in April last.
Officers of my Ministry and of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, National Development Unit, Land Transport & Shipping have already initiated action for the preparation of bidding documents for the construction of a new toilet block and the relocation of the playground of pre-primary unit on the remaining portion of an area of 6,298 m2.
I am also informed that there would be no need to construct new classrooms as the existing ones on the remaining portion of land would be sufficient toaccommodate the present school population given the decreasing trend in intake at Standard I level.
MINISTRY OF EDUCATION & HUMAN RESOURCES - MRS S. B. – RECRUITMENT (18/06/13)
(No. B/501) Mr P. Jhugroo (First Member for Mahebourg & Plaine Magnien) asked the Minister of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms whether, in regard to Mrs S. B., presently posted at the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, he will state -
(a) the date of her first recruitment in the Public Service, indicating -
(i) in what capacity, and
(ii) the Ministry at which she was posted
(b) if the post was advertised, and
(c) the different posts she has occupied as at to date.
The Minister of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives (Mr J. Seetaram): Mr
Speaker, Sir, with your permission, I shall reply to this question.
I am informed that Mrs S. B. was first recruited, under delegated power of appointment by the Public Service Commission on 20 September 2006 as Handy Worker on a casual basis in the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment.
As regards part (b) of the question, I am informed that the post was not advertised in view of delegation of powers by the Public Service Commission as is the case for the recruitment in such grades in the Public Service.
Concerning part (c) of the question, I am informed that Mrs S.B. assumed duty on
secondment at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Human Resources on 15 September 2008.
Subsequently, she was transferred to that Ministry as from 01 February 2010. She still holds the same substantive post until now.
Mr Jhugroo: Can the hon. Minister inform the House how many candidates have
applied and who went for the interview and who chose the panel to do that interview?
Mr Seetaram: Mr Speaker, Sir, I am not aware of the interviewees and the panel.
If the hon. Member comes with a substantive question, obviously, I would reply.
Mr Jhugroo: Can the hon. Minister confirm whether there was only one candidate?
Mr Speaker: No, the word ‘confirm’ is not allowed. The hon. Member can change the word.
Mr Jhugroo: Can the hon. Minister state whether there was only one candidate who went for that interview?
Mr Seetaram: Again, Mr Speaker, Sir, I cannot confirm this. I would need notice of it.
Mr Jhugroo: Can the hon. Minister inform the House as to who gave instructions to transfer Mrs S. B. from the Ministry Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment to the Ministry of Education as soon as the Minister of Education took office in year 2008, and why her name had been on the establishment and payroll …?
Mr Speaker: No. I am not interrupting you. I just want to guide you. In one question you have asked, in fact, several questions. Come one by one! You will be given the chance.
Mr Seetaram: In fact, from the information I have, Mr Speaker, Sir, she was appointed by the Ministry of Education on 01 February 2010, that is, she was transferred there. That is all that I have.
Mr Jhugroo: Can the hon. Minister give us the reason for this immediate transfer?
Mr Seetaram: I say it again. I have only information concerning the date and the
transfer. I do not know whether it is immediate or not.
Mr Speaker: You follow the trend of your answer. So, you better come with
substantive questions to get better answers with the substantive Minister. This is what I advise.
Mr Seeruttun: Mr Speaker, Sir, will the hon. Minister inform the House whether – because in his reply, he just mentioned that lady was employed on a casual basis – that lady is still on a casual basis at the Ministry of Education?
Mr Seetaram: She was employed …
Mr Speaker: Well, I have to intervene. If she is actually working at the Ministry of Education, your question is better put to the Ministry of Education.
May I continue? He is answering in lieu and stead of the Minister of Labour. So, it makes a difference between the two Ministries.
Mr Jhugroo: Can the hon. Minister confirm whether it is in the scheme of service …?
Mr Speaker: The word ‘confirm’ is not allowed.
Mr Jhugroo: Can the hon. Minister state whether it is in the scheme of service of
Mrs S.B. to travel in company of the hon. Minister?
Mr Speaker: Look, the question as it has been asked …
May I? Your question targets the Ministry of Labour.
Wait a minute! The matter rests with the Ministry of Labour. Confine any supplementary question you may put with regard to my guidance, that is, any question should be in connection with matters that fall within the jurisdiction and competence of the Minister of Labour.
Mr Jhugroo: Can the hon. Minister state whether it is in the scheme of service of
Mrs S.B. to accompany …
Mr Speaker: No. Last time, I said something about the way you put your question.
Please, I will not tolerate colourable device again. I said you follow my guidance.
You may put any supplementary questions. I will allow them if the questions concern the Ministry of Labour, that is, the period when that particular person was working there.
Mr Jhugroo: Mr Speaker, Sir, my question was addressed to the Minister of Civil
Mr Speaker: Personally, as Speaker, I do not have any control on who should answer a particular question. This is the decision of Cabinet. Well, I am bound to accept it as it is. That is why I have suggested that the hon. Member should come with a substantive question. Next question!
No cross talking! Hon. Dr. Sorefan!
Committee of Supply – Programmed Based Budget Estimates 2014 and Indicative Estimates 2015 & 2016 (28/11/2013)
Ministry of Education and Human Resources – Programme Code 421:
Policy and Management for Education and Human Resources was called.
Mr Obeegadoo: Chair, you will tell me when the 20 minutes start running.
The Chairperson: You can start now.
Mr Obeegadoo: On page 359, under the second set of Service Standards - if the Minister follows me - S2: Review of policies, and the next column,which is the third column, says SS1: CPE examinations including the current system of certification and allocation of seats reviewed.
Implement new system (2014), and new exams (2015). So, this is related to the global Budget under this programme that we are voting. I want to know from the Minister, since we are concerned here with policy for the Ministry, what we will be voting for specifically. What I would like to know from the Minister is, what is going to happen in 2014 since there is a target of January 2014? Are we extending seventh, eighth, ninth year as from 2014, which schools?
How will the admission take place? Will he tell us what is happening? What are we funding for in 2014?
The Chairperson: The question is: what are we funding? So, we are more concerned with funds. Yes, hon. Minister!
Dr. Bunwaree: Funding in regard to CPE, because we are funding many things in the Budget.
The Chairperson: Yes, you answer the question!
Wait a minute, hon. Obeegadoo! Let the Minister answer the question!
The Chairperson: Yes, you answer the question?
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Chairperson, in fact, the Budget Speech has mentioned that, and I have also spoken on what we are going to do with the CPE. I have announced that, in the name of Government,…
The Chairperson: Hon. Aimée!
Dr. Bunwaree:…the review will take place as from 2015. The hon. Member, mentioned about what is on page 349. In fact, we have introduced in the CPE examinations, including the current system of certification, allocation of seats be reviewed. So, it is the whole process going on. We have not waited for the CPE to phase out to bring amendment to what it is presently. In fact, we have already started a number of measures to lighten the CPE exams …
The Chairperson: Hon. Bhagwan, no cross-talking!
Dr. Bunwaree:…the pressure that it puts on children. I am not going to mention all, because I will need too much time. For 2013, we have started; for 2014, we are going to have resit. For example, one of the important things we are doing, in 20 December these children will have to be mixed up with those who have passed the CPE for the allocation of seats, and so on and so forth. So, we have so many things that we are going to do in 2014. We are reviewing the curriculum itself for the exams in 2014, that is, it will not be the same. We are introducing a dosage of what is learned in the Enhancement Programme in the examination that will take place in 2013. Of course, we are reviewing the CPE itself, because after 2014, it will not be the CPE as it used to be now and as it used to be in the past, it will be a new CPE. Now, if the hon. Member wants more details, of course, I can send him many briefs on what we are doing.
The Chairperson: Yes, but we are more concerned with funds. Please, no policy, no explanation of policy or whatever.
Mr Obeegadoo: My question is funding, Mr Chairperson. On page 359, there is the service standard indicator. So, we are offering the Ministry of Education funds having regard to that indicator, and the target here is January; it says clearly noir sur blanc January – January having regard to the reviewing of the CPE system of certification and allocation of seats. So, what are we paying for? Are we going to get a report? Are we going to get a new system? What are we funding for in January 2014?
Dr. Bunwaree: I have said we have lots of things which we are going to do. I mentioned a few. I said deloading of curriculum…
The Chairperson: No interruptions!
Dr. Bunwaree: I have said we are reviewing the syllabus and the development of papers that will be set for next CPE exams. It starts in January, it goes till December; in November you have the exams. There is a continuous assessment which has already started and, as from this year, will be strengthened for next year. There are so many things. I can write a big book and send it to the hon. Member.
Mrs Ribot: I am referring to page 366, item 22120008 - Fees to Consultant on (Adult Education). We are asked to vote for a Budget of Rs1 m. I would like to know from the hon. Minister whether the Consultant has already been identified and, if yes, could we get his name, and more details about that study?
Mr Seeruttun: On page 365, item 21 Compensation of Employees. I can see a drastic reduction on the amount earmarked for 2014, and yet, the number of employees for that programme is on the rise. May we know how do we reconcile the fact that the number of employees is going up and the salary is…
Dr. Bunwaree: What is the item number?
Mr Seeruttun: The first one – Compensation of Employees, it goes down from Rs162 m. to Rs121 m. and the Number of Employees is going up in 2014. May we know why?
The Chairperson: Yes, two questions have been put.
Dr. Bunwaree: I am giving the reply to hon. Seeruttun. In fact, when we look at the Budget, we find that because of the PRB implementation, there have been some surplus funds which have been ventilated in other sub programmes. So, this is why when we see this one, we find that it is less but when we look at others we will see that it is more. If the hon. Member wants more details, he will have to be specific on the items. But it is the presentation which is like that. In fact, there is ventilation of funds in other items of the Budget. For example, the hon. Member will see other programmes where the funds are in excess.
The Fees to Consultant (Adult Education), I think the question was put. In fact, the
Budget has made provision for the setting up of an Adult Education Unit at the Ministry of Education and it is intended to support adults to reengage in education for continued education and lifelong learning. We are going to target adults above 19 years of age and a consultancy given that the fact that adult education is provided by various agencies, on fait ça un peu en ce moment même. There is therefore the need for further improvement to meet Education For All (EFA) goal.
With regard to adult literacy, it is being proposed to enlist the services of a consultant to work out a strategy enrolled map for the implementation of a comprehensive and sustained adult education programme. So, we are going to appoint the consultant.
Mr Bhagwan: On page 366, item 26313099 – World Hindi Secretariat, we are being asked to vote Rs2,810,000, can we know from the hon. Minister where are we actually with that Secretariat and whether it has taken shape and, as far as the building is concerned, where matters stand concerning the construction of the Headquarters of the World Hindi Secretariat?
Mrs Labelle: Mr Chairperson, I am on page 366, item 22120 – Fees, because we are called upon to vote Rs8.4 m. and Rs1 m. is for this Adult Education the Minister has just answered. May I ask the Minister what the balance, that is, the Rs7.4 m. will be used for what purpose and for which fees?
Dr. Bunwaree: Which item?
Mrs Labelle: 22120 – Fees, because there is only Rs1 m. which is being allocated to Adult Education and the balance of Rs7.4 m. what will this sum be used for? Following that, we have Studies and Surveys Rs3.5 m., which surveys and studies are we talking about?
The Chairperson: Yes, hon. Minister!
Dr. Bunwaree: Which surveys and studies, I see that we have the voted provision. On one side, we have the fees to the Members of the Board, the Chairman and so on of the National Equivalence Council. Is it that? The question is for Adult Education?
It is Rs6 m. plus a new item – Capacity Building Programme and provision for payment to service providers is Rs6 m. and the Capacity Building Programme is added on that as a new item.
The Chairperson: No question from a sitting position!
Dr. Bunwaree: Which service? We are going to start the programme in the course of the year, Mr Chairperson!
The Chairperson: Let’s move forward! Hon. Jhugroo!
No, no question from a sitting position! No, I do not agree!
Dr. Bunwaree: The hon. Member has put the question.
The Chairperson: No, I say no. If the hon. Member wants to put another question, we will put his name down and he will get the chance.
Dr. Bunwaree: He had put the question. I can?
The Chairperson: Does the hon. Minister want to answer?
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Chairperson, the hon. Member had put the question to me. I replied for the second one but he had put the first one.
The present venue of the World Hindi Secretariat is a rented building in Forest Side and the Government of Mauritius has provided a plot of land adjacent to the Indira Gandhi Centre for Indian Culture at Phoenix, of an extent of 8,441 mètres carrés to the Secretariat for the construction of its building.
The Government of the Republic of India has appointed one dedicated project officer at the grade of Second Secretary, namely, Mr Singh, in July 2013 to oversee the project, en juillet 2013. The preliminary cost and design of the project are awaiting final approval from competent authorities in India. Nous faisons un peu de pression mais on ne peut pas faire plus que ce qu’on fait. Simultaneously, instructions to bidders are also being finalised by the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs of India. The project is, therefore, almost at tendering stage and we cannot do more because we are not Mauritius only, it is a joint programme…
Oui mais c’est joint. We are doing our part but we have to wait for the other side also.
Mr Jhugroo: On page 366, item 22180 – Overseas Travel (Mission & Capacity
Building), can the hon. Minister inform the House for what reason the amount earmarked has increased by nearly 250%?
The Chairperson: A second question by hon. Ameer Meea!
Mr Ameer Meea: Thank you, Mr Chairperson. On page 365, there is the item Rent, item number 22030. May I know from the hon. Minister which building is being rented, where is the building, the floor space area and also for what purpose we are renting this building?
The Chairperson: Yes, hon. Minister!
Dr. Bunwaree: There are so many explanations to give to hon. Jhugroo, I prefer to circulate the paper so that he will see for himself and he will find the reason there.
Secondly, the building for….
What is the number? Rs20 m.?
Provision is made for the rental of office space for four sheltered parking slots and additional space on level 1 of the MITD House, the Head Office and rental of new office space at NPF Building at Rose Hill to accommodate the Quality Assurance Directorate for about 25 Officers.
This is a new Directorate. We are lacking space.
The Chairperson: Hon. Mrs Radegonde-Haines!
Mrs Radegonde-Haines: The question has been replied already, thank you.
The Chairperson: Okay, and now hon. Mrs Ribot!
Mrs Ribot: Thank you, Mr Chairperson. I am coming back to the item 22130 on page 366 – Studies and Surveys. A sum of Rs1 m. had already been earmarked for the year 2013. I would like to know whether any study and survey has been carried out already and the subject matter of the survey and study and the reason for the significant increase since the sum of Rs3.5 m. has been earmarked for the year 2014.
The Chairperson: The second question hon. Mrs Hanoomanjee!
Mrs Hanoomanjee: At page 366 item 22100 – Publications and Stationery, whereby we see there is an amount of Rs6.5 m. Can I ask the Minister whether there has been any publication from the Ministry to explain what his Ministry is doing in terms of policy to the public?
The Chairperson: Hon. Minister, you have 4 minutes to answer!
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Chairperson, as regards the study, I think hon. Mrs Ribot mentioned that. In fact, we have a very important problem that we have identified for the past few months which is the underperformance of boys at all levels of education and therefore the study is only on gender equality in learning outcomes.
This item is taking...
It is in the process
The Chairperson: Yes, you have four minutes to answer. Now, hon. Seeruttun!
Mr Seeruttun: Thank you, Mr Chairperson. On page 366, item 22120 - Fees, for the year 2014 some Rs8.4 m. have been earmarked.
The Chairperson: Which item?
Mr Seeruttun: Item 22120 - Fees, Rs8.4 m. is earmarked for 2014. We have been given here that Rs1 m. is for the Fees to Consultant (Adult Education). May we know the remainder of that amount goes for what?
The Chairperson: Hon. Minister, you have two minutes to answer.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: I am waiting for a reply to item 22100.
The Chairperson: The hon. Minister has two minutes to answer the questions.
Dr. Bunwaree: Well, I need to check what is left for that. There should be some other thing, but I will give the information to the hon. Member.
The Chairperson: Hon. Obeegadoo!
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Chairperson, I refer to the last two items raised by my colleagues, Studies and Surveys and Publications and Stationery at page 366. We note that the Budget has proposed phasing out of CPE. We know that the primary objective of this programme is policy formulation. I would like to put it to the hon. Minister how come for the first time in the history of this country such an important change has been proposed and there is no policy document that
has been published. So, will he tell the nation, very clearly, whether, with the funds he is asking under these two items, there will be a document to tell the anguished parents and teachers out there what exactly he has in mind and when will that document be published?
The Chairperson: Don’t put a long question! Time is up!
Dr. Bunwaree: This is a matter of policy and...
The Chairperson: Silence! Allow the hon. Minister to answer, please!
Dr. Bunwaree: The problem is that my hon. friend knows well what is going on, but seems not to be knowing here. So, what I want to say is that we have a strategic document that has come out in 2009 and which is under implementation. It is the strategic plan for Education and Human Resources in Mauritius 2008-2020 and this plan was applauded even by the hon. Member and the hon. Leader of the Opposition. Tout le monde était d’accord. We are implementing this plan. So, now coming here and saying that he does not know, c’est dommage.
The Chairperson: Yes, one minute left.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: I am still waiting for a reply to my question.
The Chairperson: Yes, repeat your question.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Yes, if I may repeat, I asked on page 366 item 22100 –Publications and Stationery. I asked for the year 2013 whether the whole amount has been used till now and which publications have been...
The Chairperson: Let the hon. Minister answer.
Dr. Bunwaree: But, I have answered just now. I said I will look into it and let the hon. Member know.
The Chairperson: Alright!
He said he will look into it, so the hon. Member should follow.
Dr. Bunwaree: Then, I will place it in the Library.
The Chairperson: Time is up.
Ministry of Education and Human Resources - Programme Code 421: Policy and Management for Education and Human Resources (Rs191,029,000) was, on question put, agreed to.
Ministry of Education and Human Resources - Programme Code 422:
Pre-Primary Education was called.
Hon. Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun, first!
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Pre-Primary Education, Programme Code 422, on page 367, under item 26323071 - Early Childhood Care and Education Authority, may I ask the hon. Minister the number of Pre-Primary Schools, private and public, that will be benefitting from the one-off grant, the amount of grant to be given to each school and purpose of that grant?
The Chairperson: No. Two questions and then, hon. Obeegadoo!
Mr Obeegadoo: If I may take up from where my hon. colleague has just left off. I am referring to page 367, items 26313 or 26323, the hon. Minister will tell us which it is. Now, the Budget Speech refers to Rs100,000 to each of the 125 private underprivileged pre-primary schools. Will the hon. Minister, please, tell us what are the private underprivileged pre-primary schools? Is there a register of underprivileged pre-primary schools that has been established by the Ministry and according to what criteria?
The Chairperson: Yes, hon. Minister!
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, Mr Chairperson, in fact, in order to reduce the systemic inequity between schools at this level, we have made provisions for all Pre-Primary Schools in identified pockets of poverty. A work is being done with other Ministries - intégration sociale, sécurité sociale, etc. We have a list and then, we are going to finalise it, but all the schools that are found in these pockets of poverty will be benefitting from this item of Rs100,000.
The Chairperson: Yes, hon. Jhugroo!
Mr Jhugroo: Page 367, item 26313071, (c) Private Pre-Primary Schools. Can the hon. Minister inform the House how many of these Private Pre-Primary Schools have been registered and are getting these grants from the Ministry?
The Chairperson: Second question, hon. Mrs Labelle!
Mrs Labelle: Mr Chairperson, I would like a clarification because the Budget Speech, paragraph 305, talks about 125 private pre-primary schools. Now, I think I have heard the hon. Minister mentioning schools which will be identified and he will give the list. If the Budget mentioned 125, I would have thought that the list of these schools is ready. May I ask the hon. Minister if he can provide us with a list of these 125 schools mentioned in the Budget? May be there will be other schools that will be identified, will the hon. Minister submit us the list of
those already identified?
Dr. Bunwaree: I thank the hon. Member because she has already replied for me. In fact, 125 have been identified; there is an authority which takes care of that. But over and above that, we have to review and check because there could be others that are not included. So, 125 schools out of - I think the question was put how many schools - 850.
The Chairperson: Yes, hon. Uteem!
Mr Uteem: Thank you Mr Chairperson. I am on page 367, item 21 - Compensation of Employees, Rs1.6 m. for 2013. And then, turning to page 380, for Programme 422: Pre-Primary Education, I don’t see any position being...
The Chairperson: Page 380, last item, Programme 422.
Mr Uteem: Under Programme 422: Pre-Primary Education, I don’t see any human
resource list. So, may I have an explanation from the hon. Minister, what is this amount being paid for?
The Chairperson: Hon. Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun!
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr Chairperson, I will go back to the question that I asked, item 26323071 - Early Childhood Care and Education Authority, I am moving to section (c) One-Off Grant to Private Pre-Primary Schools. So, I would like to ask the hon. Minister, the amount of the grant to be given to these Pre-Primary Schools and the purpose of the grant?
Dr. Bunwaree: The amount of the grant is Rs100,000 per school. 125 schools have already been identified, there could be a bit more.
Well, in fact, we started last year, by giving, we did not include pre-primary, but we gave to so many schools. This time, we are renewing for primary and secondary, but we are extending to pre-primary. There are so many that we can’t give all of them, but we have chosen these schools which are in disadvantaged conditions. I have to say that the question was put about the Personal Emoluments.
The Chairperson: Yes, hon. Uteem, put your question!
Dr. Bunwaree: The thing is that there is an increase. The question of PRB comes in.
I will look into that and circulate!
Mr Obeegadoo: To go back to the question of hon. Mrs Dookun-Luchoommun, so we now know that the Ministry of Education will spend, at least, Rs12.5 m. on this so-called underprivileged private pre-primary schools.
Dr. Bunwaree: So-called!
Mr Obeegadoo: Yes, because they are, in fact, in underprivileged zone. I would like to know from the hon. Minister what is the purpose of this expenditure? What are the criteria that have been set? What are the objectives that are to be achieved to ensure that we are properly spending this money?
Dr. Bunwaree: I have already replied this question. I said we have the experience with primary and secondary already. We are going to go along the same criteria. We are going to work together with the Parent Teachers Association and the Management of the school to upgrade. There are so many things to do and we have already started doing that last year - I am saying for primary essentially.
Mr Baloomoody: Just to continue from what my learned friend, hon. Uteem, has said with regard to the personnel for the pre-primary education, we don’t have the list. Can I ask the hon. Minister whether, on that list, there is a child psychologist?
Dr. Bunwaree: Which one!
Mr Baloomoody: On the list of the Emolument, Staff for the Pre-Primary, compensation of employees. We don’t have the list. Can I know whether there is a child psychologist on that list to visit the pre-primary schools?
The Chairperson: We take a second question! Hon. Uteem!
Mr Uteem: On the same page, following up from what my friend hon. Obeegadoo has stated. With respect to this One-Off Grant to Private Pre-Primary school, may I know from the hon. Minister whether it would be a cash grant or it would be in kind given by the Ministry to various courses?
Dr. Bunwaree: No, it is cash and given under control. We just don’t give like that. We go along to what they are going to do. In fact, maybe, I have to add that One-Off Grant is essentially to support the schools on pedagogical and learning environment to promote equity among the children. This is mainly meant for that.
So, we are going to see in what way they will make their proposals and then, we will look into that and go accordingly. Now, that question that was raised, I think, hon. Baloomoody came back to that: compensation of employees, I am informed that it is essentially the social contributions and the increase as per tranche. Now the question of child psychologist, there is no psychologist attached to the pre-primary schools, but we have psychologists at the level of the Ministry in all the zones who take care of all psychological problems even for pre-primary.
Mrs Labelle: Mr Chairperson, with your permission I think my colleague has put a question as to why the staffing funded position for this programme does not appear as for other programmes. I don’t know whether we have an answer to that. But my main concern right now, still under the programme 422, we were told in the Budget Speech that the upgrading of existing crèches, because we are talking about pre-primary, Early Childhood Care. Let me refer item 26313071 Early Childhood Care and Education Authority, we were told that the programme of
upgrading of existing crèches - I take the words from the Budget speech, for an amount of R200,000 will continue this year too. It was on last year. May I ask the hon. Minister whether, maybe he can circulate the information, the number of crèche who have benefitted? This is the word I am taking.
Do you have a problem with that?
The Chairperson: No interruptions!
Mrs Labelle: These crèches were supposed to receive Rs200,000 and how many have benefitted from this scheme and where, in the Budget, will the Ministry funds this particular item?
Mr Obeegadoo: Page 339, Compensation of Employees item 21, the Minister is surely aware that because there has, as yet, not been complete standardisation of conditions of employment of teachers attached to the ECCEA, this may have caused a lot of frustrations. Are we to understand that within the estimates for next year, funds are being provided for the full and final standardisation of all conditions of employment of all teachers working under the authority whether they come from previous PTA schools, Village District Councils so that all teachers with equal qualifications are at par in terms of conditions of employment?
Dr. Bunwaree: Well, much has been done in that aspect. This question has been in the limelight for years, as we know. When I was the Minister of Labour, there was one employee, one teacher employed on contractual basis and there also, needful is being done to place her on permanent and pensionable establishment.
The Chairperson: No, it is not a proper procedure talking like this. You address me. Address the Chair and no interruptions!
Dr. Bunwaree: Once the teachers are placed on PPE, Mr Chairperson.
Let me give this information, Mr Chairperson. I said that there is one teacher and once the teachers are placed on PPE, therefore all of them immediately enjoy all the benefits to which they are entitled: pension rights etc. and they are drawing salaries as per PRB 2013. L’honorable membre n’a aucune inquiétude à se faire for the teachers. Now, for the attendants: In the year 2011 and 2013, the situation of 178 school attendants…
...were regularised. 178! They were placed on permanent and pensionable establishment and are drawing salaries according to PRB 2013. Casual workers working under the ECCEA: 21 persons working on an ad-hoc basis as school attendants against payment of an allowance and my Ministry is looking into ways and means to regularise their situation. I don’t know whether it is for that category that the hon. Member was referring to. For hon. Labelle: Crèche will not appear here because it is zero to 3, therefore it is not covered within the purview of my Ministry.
This is the Ministry of Gender which, in fact, takes care of that, but we liaise with them everyday and whenever there are things to do, we do. But the main responsibility is for my colleague, the hon. Minister of Gender Equality.
Mr François: Mr Chairperson, I refer to page 367, item 26323071 (c) One-Off Grant to Private Pre-Primary Schools. May I ask the hon. Minister how many private schools will benefit from this one-off grant from Rodrigues being given that the Statistics Office says Rodrigues is one the least developed region in Mauritius?
Dr. Bunwaree: For Rodrigues, I don’t have the figures. Certainly they are coming, but I can say to my hon. friend – he knows, in fact - that we never leave Rodrigues out. Whenever they are in pockets of difficulties, they will qualify certainly.
Programme Code 422: Pre-Primary Education (Rs230,577,000) was, on question put, agreed to Ministry of Education and Human Resources – Programme Code 423: Primary Education was called.
Mrs Navarre-Marie: In fact, I have the same question for four items on page 368.
The question is: can the Minister explain…
Mr Chairperson: Please give the item number.
Mrs Navarre-Marie: Can the hon. Minister explain the reasons for such huge increases in the estimates for next year? So, same question for the four items. The items are as follows:
22030 – Rent, from R780,000 to Rs7 m.; item 22060 -, Maintenance, from Rs53m. to Rs56m.;
item 22670 - Cleaning Services, from Rs15 m. to Rs26 m., and finally item 22090 – Security, from Rs18m. to Rs27m.
Mr Chairperson: That's four questions in one. Yes, second question, hon. Mrs Dookun- Luchoomun.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: I will move on to the same Programme, item 26323 – Capital Grant to Extra-Budgetary, and sub-item 26323034 - Mauritius Examinations Syndicate, on Page 368. May I know for which purpose this capital grant has been made to the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate?
Dr. Bunwaree: Let me try to give the replies to the four in one question. Security
Services: the award of the contract with effect from July 2010, for a period of three years, renewable yearly up to June 2013 to RSL Security Services Ltd. Contract is being renewed on a month to month basis as from 01 July 2013, owing to a Court case against Rapid Security Services. So, a Court case is going on, and, therefore, this decision has been taken.
Now, for increase in rental of buildings. In fact, as I said earlier, it is mainly for shifting to Zone IV to Ébène Heights. A building is being rented there. There is also for the Store Section of Zone I, which is going to SILWF building, 301m2, and the other one 9,700 square feet.
The question was also concerning rental space for one primary school, Moonoosamy Building, Triolet, to house Sewraz Government School, where work is being done. The school is being redone completely.
There was also a question put concerning maintenance. For maintenance, Rs300,000 has come to Rs750,000 for 2014. Out of this, we have plant and equipment, Rs160,000, as it was last year, and for IT equipment, the increase is mainly there. Last year, it was Rs140,000, and this year Rs590,000. For cleaning services, I don't have the information. I will give it as soon as I have it.
The Chairperson: In the meantime, we listen to the question of hon. Obeegadooo.
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Chairperson, I would like to go to the Zone d’Education Prioritaire Schools, which is Sub-programme 42304, and on page 361, on the top of the page, we have the dismal success rate of the ZEP schools which, under this Government, has become the Zone d’Echec Prioritaire. I would like to know, now that the Minister of Finance, rightly, is proposing that we approve an additional Rs40 m. for the ZEP schools, what measures the Ministry is taking to ensure that this sum is efficiently and effectively spent, so that it translates into better results that, which the Ministry has been incapable of doing over the last eight years?
The Chairperson: I would appeal to hon. Obeegadoo to be fair in putting a question.
You put a question, and don't pass a judgment on the hon. Minister. Yes, hon. Mrs Radegonde- Haines!
Mrs Radegonde-Haines: Thank you, Mr Chairperson. At page 368, under Subprogramme 42302, item 28212004 - Primary School Supplementary Feeding Project, we know that there is an increase in the amount. I would like to know from the hon. Minister, since we have problem with Bambous, if there has been any tender exercise, and who has been awarded the tender. I would also like to know if, in the contract, a penalty will be included in case of food poisoning.
The Chairperson: It is a good question for a PQ, hon. Mrs Radegonde-Haines! Hon. Mrs Ribot!
Mrs Ribot: Thank you, Mr Chairperson. I am referring to Sub-programme 42303 - Private Aided Primary Schools, on page 369, item 2110 - Personal Emoluments.
There is quite a significant increase from Rs37 m. to Rs89 m., but later, we see that the number of funded positions has remained the same, that is, Rs182. Can the hon. Minister justify the significant increase?
Mr Bhagwan: On page 369, sub-item 31112402 - Upgrading of Toilets. All MPs know about this problem, which is related to all schools in all constituencies. Can the hon. Minister tell us whether there has been a list or a survey which has been done for that particular project? If the hon. Minister could circulate a list of what has been done, so that we can know where there are problems in our constituency whenever we are called upon, and in which schools there will be upgrading for the coming year.
Dr. Bunwaree: To reply to hon. Bhagwan, I can circulate the list that we have. This is very interesting. A regular survey goes on. Sometimes, schools are added, and sometimes schools are removed when they are already done. I am placing the list in the Library.
There was also a question put on the increase in personal emoluments from Rs37,000 to Rs89,000. I am informed that the increase is mainly due to implementation of the PRB and Anomalies Report of 2013, and transfer of funds for government oriental language teachers working at the RCA schools, actually paid under Programme 42302 - Public Primary Schools. It also includes increment of 2014. So, this gives the reply to Mrs Ribot who has put the question.
Now, with regard to the question of ZEP schools, it was a question of policy. I don't want to enter into this, but then I will certainly inform the hon. Member by other means about all that is being done. I am going to circulate for him the various things that we are doing, but I recall that I did mention the ASA Foundation. I think the hon. Minister of Finance also talked about that the other day. The ASA Academy is going to help us to launch a very daring programme for
ZEP schools, and we have identified six pilot schools for next year, where we are having a grant from the African Development Bank of about Rs60 m. to make this happen. And once this happens, it will be extended certainly, with the help of our own Government, to all the other ZEP schools of the country.
I think a question was put on the Cleaning Services. This includes cleaning in all primary and secondary schools, all administrative institutions, and also the cleaning of toilets, of course. I am told that the scope of the cleaning of the premises of the school institutions starts from the entrance and covers all the areas of the compound. Now this is new, it did not exist before. I’ll have to look into the matter, but I am told that these are the various components of the cleaning
Mr Jhugroo: On page 368, item 28212004 - Primary School Supplementary Feeding Project. Being given that an amount of Rs24.5 m. is earmarked for this year, can the hon. Minister inform the House what amount has been used for this year? Can he table a list of all those who were involved with this School Feeding Project?
Dr. Bunwaree: I will certainly circulate this information for hon. Jhugroo. I think Mrs Radegonde-Haines also mentioned about the School Feeding Project. In fact, I forgot to tell her that we are going to opt for the hot meal again. No contract has been given yet, but the contract has been prepared and it is going to be launched very soon.
Mr Uteem: Mr Chairperson, on page 369, item 31112402 Upgrading of Schools (a) O. Beaugeard Government School. May I know from the hon. Minister what is the total contract value of the project? When is it scheduled to be completed and, in the meantime, what is the rent being paid by the Ministry for the alternative sites where the students are studying?
Mr Baloomoody: On the same item 31112402 - Upgrading of Schools, Mr Chairperson, I don’t see the name of Renganaden Seeneevassen Primary School, at Réserve Street, Port Louis.
Do I take it that there will be no construction, extension or alteration of the building, because now he project for the dream bridge is not going ahead?
Dr. Bunwaree: I am talking from memory, but, in any case, I have already mentioned that the school children and the PTA should not be anxious, because we are going to take good care of all of them. There will be, next year, under the item upgrading I have been told, but we have to take into consideration that there will be that big development and we are going to see how we are going to manage with the school which is already there; we are not going to close it.
With regard to O. Beaugeard Government School, the project is for the construction of 15 classrooms, toilet and renovation works, with a project value of Rs45.7 m., and the expected completion date is May 2014. The reason for the delay is that the first contract was awarded in 2006, works stopped due to Court Order and new design after consultation with the Ministry of Arts and Culture and the National Heritage Trust Fund. Tenders were floated in 2009, but the contract was not awarded as validity of bond of bidder had lapsed. There was a new exercise in 2012 and works started in July.
However, there was a new action in Court on 25 November of this year from Société de l’Histoire de Maurice, so an Interim Stop Order was issued. So, you see the difficulties that we are having. There is now an injunction on the construction of O. Beaugeard, unfortunately.
Mr François: I refer to page 368, item 28212004 - Primary School Supplementary
Feeding Project. May I ask the hon. Minister whether this feeding project which is to be paid from the Rs26.5 m. will include natural food crops like manioc, cambar, patate douce, etc. for a healthy school population?
Dr. Bunwaree: I can assure the hon. Member that this work is done in conjunction with the specialist dieticians of the Ministry of Health.
Mr Nagalingum: On page 368, item 22070 - Cleaning Services. I come back to that item because the Minister does not tell us who is the contractor and if there has been a tendering exercise. If the hon. Member does not have the information, he can circulate it; same for Security.
Dr. Bunwaree: Provision was made according to the contracts awarded. I have just been given a list of contractors, They are –
- Mauriclean Service Ltd.;
- New Cleaning Service;
- Best Super Clean Co. Ltd., and
- Moolchand Cleaning.
Mauriclean Service Ltd. for a certain number of schools!
Mr Jugnauth: On Page 369, under Sub-Programme 42303: Private-Aided Primary Schools, item - 28211061 Performance Grant to RCEA Schools. Although we are going to vote for this estimate for next year, the Ministry will still need to seek the authority of the Ministry of Finance for that amount. May I know if the criteria for the grant has already been discussed with the Ministry of Finance and, if so, can the hon. Minister circulate this criteria?
Mrs Labelle: Mr Chairperson, I have so many questions that I have to choose. Under Sub-Programme 42302, item 28212004 – Primary School Supplementary Feeding Project, and the feeding project under Sub-Programme 42304: Zone d’Education Prioritaire School respectively. May I know from the hon. Minister this feeding project consists of what? What do we give to the children under this project and what amount has been spent for 2013, particularly when we know that the initial project was changed? So, what amount has been spent for ZEP
schools for 2013 and for the other schools it consists of what?
Dr. Bunwaree: Well, it consists of a menu which is varied. I will circulate the menus which these children are offered.
For the ZEP schools, it is a bit special, I must say. I will find the figures and circulate it definitely.
Now, a question was put by hon. Jugnauth with regard to grant for the RCEA schools. I must say that we keep working and discussing with the Ministry of Finance. A new agreement for the period 2015 is being worked out by a technical committee set up at the level of the Ministry and will be finalised shortly. I will circulate the performance indicators.
Mrs Navarre-Marie: Mr Chairperson, on page 370, item 31112002- Construction and Extension of Schools. Mr Chairperson, I don’t understand why Serge Coutet Government School, which is a school found at Baie du Tombeau – the school that I attended when I was a child. The demand is very low there…
I don’t understand why there is construction or extension of schools. In fact, I think it would be better under Upgrading of Schools, because there is no demand for that school in Baie du Tombeau, because of the poor performance at CPE level.
The Chairperson: Is it a question or a statement? Hon. Mrs Ribot!
Mrs Navarre-Marie: Why it is under Construction and Extension and there is no
The Chairperson: That’s a question. Thank you. Yes!
Mrs Ribot: Mr Chairperson, I just want to get a clarification from the hon. Minister. I asked a question earlier on the Personal Emoluments of the Private Aided Primary Schools at item 21110 and I think I heard the hon. Minister reply that that sum included the fees to the oriental language teachers. I just wanted to have a confirmation because according to me this is not the case since the fees to the oriental language teachers is found in another programme and amounts to Rs28,000.
The Chairperson: Too long question! Long question!
Mrs Ribot: That was just a clarification. And the question I wanted...
The Chairperson: If the hon. Member clarifies and puts question, we are...
Mrs Ribot: Now I come to my question. Summer/Winter School Programme item
22900935 on page 367, I would like to get the name and number of schools engaged in that programme, the names of students per school at the beginning and at the end of the year and the justification for the decrease of the grants from Rs5 m. to Rs4 m. and as a conclusion, we are just a bit surprised that we do not find any budgetary provision for the Enhancement Programme, has it simply disappeared?
The Chairperson: Your question has an introduction and a conclusion!
Yes, hon. Minister!
No, no more questions!
Time is over but the Minister will have to answer!
Dr. Bunwaree: Winter and Summer Schools, il y a une petite confusion, j’espère que cela va se régler rapidement parce que ce qu’on appelle les summer schools et les winter schools, ce sont des écoles qui existent déjà mais qui pendant summer et...
Parce qu’on me demande depuis le début de l’année jusqu'à la fin mais ce sont des écoles qui existent.
L’Enhancement Programme n’a pas disparu, au contraire.
Pour Serge Coutet à Baie du Tombeau je vais voir quel est le problème là-bas parce qu’on me dit que for special schools because there is a work which is done, la demande vient de la base. Les experts vont et on travaille ensemble pour voir. J’allais donner cette réponse-là mais je vois que les specialist rooms pour le computer, la science lab, etc. Mais on prend les enfants d’une autre
façon ; avec les techniques modernes, ils se développent très vite.
Mais je vais prendre en considération ce que l’honorable membre m’a dit. Si on a décidé de le faire, c’est qu’il y a une belle équipe qui a dû travailler là-dessus mais, j’ai dit que je vais prendre en considération pour voir parce que je crois aussi dans ce que pensent les autres.
As regards the Oriental Language (OL), I was informed that it was like that, I will look into it and reconfirm.
The Chairperson: There is one question for hon. Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun which has to be answered.
Dr. Bunwaree: Which one?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: May I ask the hon. Minister about the Capital Project for MES? I have not had an answer about what it was meant for, the sum of Rs800,000 which was given to the MES.
Secondly, for the Zone d’Éducation Prioritaire school,…
The Chairperson: One question! I have allowed the hon. Member one question, please!
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: …the Fees item 22120…
The Chairperson: No, one question only!
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The Fees were not provided for in the last year’s Budget, but Rs9.5 m. for the next year, that is why I wanted to know what those fees are meant for.
Dr. Bunwaree: For the MES, the funds will be used for the acquisition for of equipment and furniture such as computers, printers, server, office desks, etc. Ça c’est pour le MES. The other question was about the Enhancement Programme? It is on. Cela continue.
The Chairperson: Now the Time Over!
Ministry of Education and Human Resources – Programme Code 423: Primary
Education (Rs3,953,774,000) was, on question put, agreed to.
Ministry of Education and Human Resources – Programme Code 424: Secondary Education was called.
The Chairperson: Yes, your time starts at 16.06!
Don’t you worry, you will get your minutes and your seconds!
I have given 4 minutes more for the last Programme Code. Do you want to stop the clock?
So, those who are interested, please, let us show! Yes, hon. Mrs Labelle, hon. Obeegadoo!
Mrs Labelle: We start?
The Chairperson: Yes.
Mrs Labelle: Mr Chairperson, I go to page 375, sub programme 42402 – Pre-Vocational Education. I am going to stay with item 21 – Personal Emoluments. I would like to ask the hon. Minister whether this amount includes payment to pre-voc supply teachers who have been working for 8 years and I think following Parliamentary Questions, the Minister told me that they are going to be appointed, since two years he told me that. Whether finally these poor prevoc teachers will be appointed and whether there is provision for their emoluments in this Budget?
The Chairperson: Yes!
Dr. Bunwaree: The answer is yes. Provision includes implementation of PRB, etc. increment 2014 and filling of vacancies, pre-voc education.
As soon as soon can be. Very soon! Je vais regarder cela.
The Chairperson: If it is going to happen like this, we will be wasting time and others will not get the chance to put questions! Yes, hon. Obeegadoo!
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Chairperson, I rise on the sub programme 42042 – Pre-Vocational Education. The staffing provision is at page 385 and the global budget is at page 375. So, I rise on the Compensation of Employees and also the staffing positions at 385. As we approve this Budget, we are told there are major impending changes for the pre-vocational that is to be phased out. Will the Minister tell us what is going to happen to these posts that we are going to fund in
2014 inasmuch as the teachers out there are in a state of anguish?
In as much as the teachers out there are in a state of anguish and asking what is going to happen! They are in the dark!
Dr. Bunwaree: Je suis un médecin qui guérit les anguished, M. le président.
Je peux les rassurer. This year is going to be a year of transition. We will have to understand. Of course, the pre-voc will be taken up in the reforms that are going to come. But, no one will be left out, au contraire, tout le monde va être un peu mieux par rapport à ce qu’il y a. Mais c’est une histoire de policy, so, I will ask the hon. Member to be patient and bear with us.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: At page 372, item 28221007 Secondary Schools…
Dr. Bunwaree: What page?
Mrs Hanoomanjee: At page 372 item 28221007 – Secondary Schools (Acquisition of Musical Instruments), I see for 2014 an amount of Rs10 m. has been provided but when I look at page 383, I see no posts have been created or no posts exist for the teaching of music. Can I know what will happen?
Dr. Bunwaree: Toutes les écoles secondaires ont des professeurs de musique déjà.
The Chairperson: Hon. Mrs Ribot! We have finished. I say no more! Hon. Mrs Ribot!
Mrs Ribot: Thank you, Mr Chairperson, I am referring to ….
Dr. Bunwaree: L’instrument…
The Chairperson: Hon. Minister, please!
Mrs Ribot: I am referring to page 372, item 26216…
The Chairperson: Hon. Minister, you are making things difficult for the Chair!
Dr. Bunwaree: I am sorry!
The Chairperson: Hon. Mrs Ribot!
Mrs Ribot: Page 372, item 26210152 – Contribution to OECD (Programme for
International Student Assessment), we would like to get some clarification on that item and the justification of the increase regarding item 26313122 and 26313123 – Rabindranath Tagore Institute and Mahatma Gandhi Institute moving from Rs1 m. to Rs13 m. and Rs5 m. to Rs20 m.
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, I will wait for the explanation for the increase in Budget.
There are certainly things that are being done for both RTI and MGI. For the OECD, I must inform the hon. Member that, in fact, in the domain of reading and also in other domains, for example, mathematics, we work with international institutions which carry assessments and so on for Mauritius. In fact, we are doing well, I must say. Apart from OECD there is also PASEC, all these are institutions that take care of our system and assesses what the children of Mauritius are
doing. So, I don’t know exactly what the hon. Member wants to know, but I will give her all the details, I will circulate all the details regarding these institutions.
The Chairperson: Hon. Mrs Radegonde-Haines!
Mrs Radegonde-Haines: Thank you, Mr Chairperson. At page 373, under Sub-
Programme: 42404, item 28211 - Other Current Transfers to Non-Profit Institutions, I would like to know why there is a significant increase from the year 2013 to 2014?
Dr. Bunwaree: What page?
The Chairperson: Page 373, item 28211.
Mrs Radegonde-Haines: Rs7,600,000 was earmarked for the year 2013 and
Rs21,600,000 was earmarked for 2014 and then, a reduction again. Can I have some explanation?
Dr. Bunwaree: The explanation is that the grant to Public Secondary Schools, payment of grant to registered PTA of Public Secondary Schools, basic grant, matching grant, per capita grant and one-off grant to Public Secondary Schools for upgrading, the Rs200,000 per SSS which is Rs14 m. by itself. So, I will circulate that breakdown. I think it would be better.
The Chairperson: Next question, hon. Jhugroo!
Mr Jhugroo: On page 375, item 31112002, with regard to the Construction and
Extension of Schools, being given that there was an amount of Rs43.3 m. which was earmarked for this year for the Construction and Extension of Schools, can we have an idea of the status of work carried out in each school?
Dr. Bunwaree: In each of the five schools. Yes, I will circulate it.
The Chairperson: Yes, hon. Bhagwan!
Mr Bhagwan: At page 375, Pre-Vocational Education. Under item 31112002 -
Construction and Extension of Schools, I see there are five training centres under renovation and construction. One is the Mont Roches Training Centre which is in my Constituency. My question to the hon. Minister is that the state of affairs and the environment, the building itself at Colonel Maingard, Beau Bassin has been converted into a training school. I don’t see that in this list. Can I know from the hon. Minister whether the intention of Government is to close that institution there at Maingard or whether there are plans for further renovation, I think, in the
coming years or in the coming months?
Dr. Bunwaree: I don’t think there is any question of closure. I have never heard that at the level of the Ministry. There should be certainly works, but I will look into the matter and then inform the hon. Member.
The Chairperson: Yes, hon. Uteem!
Mr Uteem: Mr Chairperson, on page 373, item 31112402 Upgrading of Schools, (f) R. Seeneevassen SSS, may I know from the hon. Minister what does the upgrading works relate to?
What is the total contract amount and when is the scheduled completion date?
Dr. Bunwaree: For R. Seeneevassen SSS, I will certainly be tabling it in a few seconds.
I have to add for Colonel Maingard - because I have just got the information to the question put by hon. Bhagwan - that the Colonel Maingard School has been transformed into a SEN school.
So much the better and the status is that the work has been completed, but I will look into the other aspects of the environment, as he mentioned.
The Chairperson: Yes, hon. Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun!
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: At page 372, under item 22900006 - School Requisites (including Specialised Language Schools), can I ask the hon. Minister which schools have been identified for this project? Whether there are specialised staffs trained for that purpose and whether language labs have been included in these institutions?
Dr. Bunwaree: This question of Specialised Language Schools is very important. It is a revolution, and we already have two languages in Mauritius, English and French, learnt by all the students apart from oriental languages and other languages.
The Specialised Language Schools will have to take care of a third language for our students and the measure will target Secondary School Students in eight State Secondary Schools, two per education zone. Well, I will circulate the list. We have eight of them as has been mentioned. The languages that are going to be taught will be most probably German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Russian, and these languages will be taught in Lower Secondary Forms I, II and III. Well, they want to know the names, if the hon. Member will bear with me I will just mention the eight names.
The Chairperson: If it is a long list, you circulate it.
Dr. Bunwaree: I will place it in the Library.
The Chairperson: Yes, you better circulate it, give others their chance. Hon. Seeruttun!
Mr Seeruttun: Thank you, Mr Chairperson. On page 375, Sub-Programme 42402, under item 26313027- Mauritius Institute of Training and Development (Prevoc), the amount for 2014 has gone up to Rs14.4 m. May we have some details for what expenditure this Rs14.4 m. is going to cater for?
Dr. Bunwaree: I will circulate all the details because there are many things. But, I will mention only one, at least, that the MITD is going to take care of. The new thing that is going to start in Mauritius is the maintenance of airplanes which is going to take place in the region of the airport, that is, in Beau-Vallon.
The Chairperson: Hon. Mrs Labelle!
Mrs Labelle: Thank you, Mr Chairperson. Mr Chairperson, I am on Programme 42402, the hon. Minister has mentioned that the supply teachers of pre-vocational will be appointed, but when we look at the position funded, there is no increase. There is even a decrease of position funded as compared to figures in the Budget Estimates of 2013. These supply teachers who have been working on contract during the past eight or ten years; so, there is no provision for them to
be appointed during the coming year?
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Chairperson, the Ministry is considering the regularisation of posts, as the hon. Member mentioned. There are 31 supply teachers who have been serving the prevocs streams since January 2004, in fact. It is proposed to amend the Scheme of Service - this is being done - so as to facilitate the absorption of 31 supply teachers on the establishment of the Ministry. Provision has been made in the year 2014 for 46 funded positions in the grade of Teacher Secondary Pre-Vocational. So, funds will be sought for four additional posts once the scheme of service for the post of Teacher Secondary Pre-Vocational is prescribed.
The Chairperson: Hon. Obeegadoo!
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Chairperson, I am a bit at a loss; if this programme is 424.
Yes. The programme is 424. At page 355, I read that the primary objective is to make sure all children successfully complete Form VI or alternative programmes.
Then, I look at – and of course, I have in mind the nine-year schooling, one graduate per family - page 361, the figures that the hon. Minister has given, Mr Chairperson; percentage of students entering in Form 1 and graduating in Form V: 56%; percentage of students entering Year 1 and completing prevocational
cycle: 79%. Can the hon. Minister give us one good reason why we should vote this global budget of Rs7.7 m. with such a failure rate and a drop-out rate?
Dr. Bunwaree: I don’t know whether the hon. Member is aware of what the drop-out rate was when he was in my place.
The Chairperson: Hon. Mrs Ribot!
Mrs Ribot: Thank you, Mr Chairperson. I am referring to page 375, item 26313027 MITD, the estimates for the year 2014 are increasing. I just want to ask the hon. Minister whether he does not consider that a waste of money since more and more schools are discouraging the Prevocational students to go to MITD?
Dr. Bunwaree: I am not aware of this. I would like to meet the hon. Member in my office, if possible, to come and explain to me whether this is a fact. What I can tell you, Mr Chairperson, is that the MITD is progressing very rapidly et de nouveaux créneaux sont en train d’être ouverts pour ces enfants.
Mr Uteem: Thank you, Mr Chairperson. On page 384, sub programme 42404 Public Secondary Schools. May I know the reason for the increase in the number of Rector and Deputy Rector for next year? Are there going to be new schools?
Dr. Bunwaree: In fact, we need more Rectors and Deputy Rectors. We are expanding in all schools. The scope of work is increasing and we are going in line with the new trend, that is, even career guidance is being done in the secondary schools. Entrepreneurship education is taking place. Sports and physical education have already become an examinable subject. So, the load of work is increasing. The number of posts will have to increase and we have to adapt.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: May I ask from the hon. Minister on page 374, item 32145 Loan (Disbursement), what are the criteria for the loan disbursement to the Private Secondary schools?
Dr. Bunwaree: I think in the Budget last year, it was mentioned a new loan scheme and the criteria has already been ventilated. They are the same criteria. Ils one été finalisés avec le ministère des finances. Now, it has already been approved and the loan is going to start to be disbursed.
The Chairperson: Yes, we are still left with two minutes! Any question!
Programme Code 424: Secondary Education (Rs7,743,810,000) was, on question put, agreed to.
Programme Code 425: Technical and Vocational Education and Training was called.
Mr Bhagwan: Mr Chairperson, item 26313027. Page 376, item Mauritius Institute of Training and Development. We are being asked to vote Rs485 m. My point is that during this current year, the MITD has been in a lot of controversies, even in Parliament and outside Parliament. Can I ask the hon. Minister – I won’t go into all the details which have been lengthily discussed here – whether it is not time to have a rebranding of all the institutions and whether there is a new Head...
The Chairperson: Don’t interrupt!
Mr Bhagwan: .. who has been appointed to replace Mr Dubois, whether the Board will be renewed - a sort of rebranding for the image of the institution itself - giving a new impetus to this very important organisation?
Mr Obeegadoo: We don’t have staff details, of course, concerning the MITD because, I suppose, this is a parastatal. I would be very interested to know. Last year we had to move for a reduction in the Budget because of what hon. Bhagwan just described. I would like to know whether the Ministry put some order in the MITD? Do we still have psychologist on the establishment since the psychologist got suspended? Do we still have secondary teachers with dubious credentials? What is the situation exactly for us to approve this Budget for the MITD?
The Chairperson: Yes, but my question to you hon. Member is: to which item are you referring to?
Mr Obeegadoo: Let me explain, Mr Chairperson. Page 376, there is the global vote…
The Chairperson: My question is quite specific. You have made a statement. I want to know that statement is related to which item?
Mr Obeegadoo: Items 26313027 and 26323027 on page 376. I pointed out that this is the global budget and no staffing details.
Dr. Bunwaree: About the staffing details, there is a Board there, they work and there is a management. Only the funding comes from the Ministry. The hon. Member was Minister, he knows.
Ti éna pire, mo kapav dire twa!
You want me to mention!
Mo éna ène rapport pédophile mwa!
The Chairperson: No, I don’t allow this conversation between the hon. Minister and the hon. Member because just think of the Hansard! What will appear in the Hansard?
Have you finished!
Dr. Bunwaree: No, Mr Chairperson. In fact, there has been an open advertisement for the post of Director. I think the interview is taking place and there will be a new Director. In fact, that was very important. That was one of the faiblesse du MITD parce qu’il n’y avait pas un Directeur qui pouvait prendre la chose en main. What has been mentioned by the hon. Member a eu lieu dans le passé parce qu’il y avait une faiblesse dans le management. On est en train de revoir cela. Il y a une équipe avec des représentants du Board qui couvrent un peu le management en attendant que le nouveau directeur soit nommé. Then, there is also a strategic
plan that is being prepared by the MITD and I wish to thank hon. Bhagwan for this question. I think this is the way we have to take it. C’est de cette façon qu’on va réussir avec le MITD.
The Chairperson: That’s very good for hon. Bhagwan! Hon. Uteem!
Mr Uteem: Thank you, Mr Chairperson. On the same item 26 Grants to MITD, may I know from the hon. Minister whether there has been any Audit report carried out on MITD in respect of its stock in particular, any wastage, and whether he is prepared to table such a report?
Dr. Bunwaree: Il y a eu des enquêtes qui ont été faîtes régulièrement. J’ai répondu à toutes les questions au niveau de la Chambre and audit is being carried out regularly.
Mr Jhugroo: Mr Chairperson, being given that a sum of Rs485 m. has been earmarked for next year and there is no detail regarding the staff, will the hon. Minister give the House the guarantee that all vacant posts will be advertised and qualified people be recruited?
Dr. Bunwaree: I thank the hon. Member for this question. In fact, they have come many times at the level of this Assembly, but never put the question so simply. En fait il y a eu et je l’ai dit plusieurs fois ici dans cette Chambre qu’il y avait un système que moi même je n’approuvais pas. How many times I have said to the hon. Leader of the Opposition that I was not happy et on a mis un frein à cela and concerning the appointment of the Director, there will be no one who is going along the other system qui était peut être acceptable parce que c’est l’ancien directeur qui avait accepté ce système qui est peut être acceptable mais qui n’est pas moral.
Mr Baloomoody: On the same item MITD, Mr Chairperson. We are being asked today to vote Rs485 m. for the Current Grant, that is, the running cost, and Rs1 m. for the Capital Grant. I am sure, before coming to these figures, the Minister must have received a list of the current expenditure, a list of those people who are employed and their position. This is why we are asking the hon. Minister whether he is prepared to lay on the Table, today, the list of those who are employed at the MITD.
Dr. Bunwaree: Il n’y a pas de problèmes là-dessus. Seulement, comme je l’ai dit, nous sommes responsables de l’overview et du financement. Mais eux, ils ont leur Board, ils ont leur management. Si vous posez des questions, il n’y a pas de problèmes ; on est très ouvert pour donner le nombre de personnes qui travaillent, à quoi va servir le grant de R 1 million.
Seulement, le budget aurait été volumineux si on avait mis tous ces détails. Vous posez des questions ; vous allez avoir des réponses !
Mr Bhagwan: From what we gather from the reply of the Minister, it is a motion of blame that he is putting on the previous Director, Mr Dubois, who is now the Senior Adviser at the Ministry of Finance. My question is: out of this budget, can the Minister…
The Chairperson: Let us listen to the question! Put your question!
Mr Bhagwan: My question is about the sum of Rs485 m. Can the Minister give the assurance to the House, the country, the nation and the population …
The Chairperson: The country, the nation and the population. Carry on!
Mr Bhagwan: - one of the main problems is recruitment - whether directives will be given that all recruitment will be made in a transparent way and island wise? 20 constituencies, not only one!
The Chairperson: I don't know whether it is a question!
Mr Bhagwan: I am asking whether, out of the Rs485 m., recruitment will be made for the whole of Mauritius to have the chance to go and work.
The Chairperson: That's a good question. Yes, hon. Minister!
Dr. Bunwaree: Je vais rappeler à l’honorable membre qu’on a passé récemment un supplementary expenditure pour le budget de l’année dernière. Et le MITD était la seule institution sous le ministère de l’Education où on était venu avec un budget supplémentaire.
Parce qu’ils ont été très serré, je dois dire ; on a contrôlé toutes les dépenses, et ils avaient manqué de fonds. Donc, pour vous dire que le travail se fait correctement.
I can give the assurance to this House, but I don't have time to go into the details.
The hon. Member would have understood very quickly that recruitment is done very transparently, insofar as I am concerned. Now, whatever has happened before, whatever has happened in my back, this is something different. J’ai entendu les mots ‘Carreau Esnouf’ mentionnés par l’honorable membre dans une position assise…
The Chairperson: Just forget!
Dr. Bunwaree: Je dois dire que c’est une institution qui avait été ouverte par l’honorable Pravind Jugnauth quand il était ministre des Finances, avec le concours de l’UE, qui était resté fermée. Je ne le blâme pas, parce qu’il n’a pas su. C’était resté fermé. L’honorable Jhugroo était membre avec moi, et il sait très bien qu’on a rouvert cela. Pendant quatre ans ce bâtiment est resté fermé. On a ouvert un nouveau bâtiment à Carreau Esnouf pour faire le travail du MITD.
On a transformé cela en un centre de MITD, mais, bien entendu, quand on ouvre un centre dans un endroit comme ça, c’est les personnes aux alentours qui seront employées. On ne va pas prendre des personnes de Coromandel pour venir travailler à Carreau Esnouf. Par exemple, dans la circonscription de l’honorable Bhagwan, il y a des centres de MITD, et il n’y aura pas des personnes qui sortiront de Mahebourg pour aller travailler là-bas ! Donc, c’est normal !
The Chairperson: Silence !
Dr. Bunwaree: C’est la réponse que j’avais donnée à l’honorable leader de l’opposition.
Quand un centre s’ouvre dans la région, vous allez voir des personnes de la région qui vont travailler dans ce centre. C’est normal!
The Chairperson: Hon Jhugroo!
Mr Jhugroo: Thank you, Chairperson. Page 376, same item MITD. Following the
question of my colleague, hon. Baloomoody, I want to ask the hon. Minister whether he can table the list of those people employed by MITD, with their qualification. I am adding qualification.
Dr. Bunwaree: I want to tell the hon. Member that, when I table it, if he finds something wrong, he can come to me.
Mr Jugnauth: Toujours MITD ; le ministre a dit que lui-même n’était pas d’accord avec la façon de faire sous l’ancien directeur. Étant donné que nous avons déjà dépensé, donc, une certaine somme pour cette année-ci, est-ce que le ministre peut nous donner la garantie qu’il va prendre des sanctions contre ceux qui ont fauté, ceux qui n’ont pas suivi les procédures qu’il fallait, et qu’il n’était pas d’accord.
Dr. Bunwaree: Moi, je ne suis pas d’accord. J’ai envoyé ça où il faut. L’enquête est en train de se faire, et puis on verra ce que on va faire.
The Chairperson: Hon. Obeegadoo!
Mr Obeegadoo: Yes, Mr Chairperson, as you know, on page 376, we are asked to vote this amount of Rs486 m; Programme 425. The whole amount goes to the MITD. I wanted to know from the hon. Minister where is the section in the Ministry, the Unit in the Ministry, which works on TVET, having regard to the overall supervision and policy dimension of TVET.
Where, in the Budget, are we providing funds for dedicated staff within the Ministry to handle the TVET?
Dr. Bunwaree: Ce n’est pas comme ça que ça marche au niveau du ministère. Quand il était là, est-ce qu’il y avait ça ? Je n’ai jamais vu ! Il est en train de dire des choses qui viennent de son esprit.
The Chairperson: That’s a matter of policy!
Dr. Bunwaree: Il y a un directorate ; ce sont des jeunes qui sont payés au niveau de ministère. Ils s’occupent du MITD, de la formation, du TVET. Il y a des personnes, il y a un PS, il y a des membres, il y une équipe qui fait ça.
The Chairperson: Hon. Obeegadoo! Do you have a question?
Mr Obeegadoo: Tout ce que je dis vient de mon esprit, c’est sûr ! I am very serious about it; if you look at the first pages of this Budget, on page 354, the third bullet says that the objective is to provide an efficient and effective TVET system. So, I am asking the Minister whether all of the policy issues are left to the MITD; that’s why the whole of the budget goes to the MITD. Otherwise, who, in the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development – it is not just Education, as it was in my time - handles this overseeing, the development of an
effective TVET system?
The Chairperson: It is a policy question. It is a matter of policy. You are free to answer or not to answer.
Dr. Bunwaree: I said that there is a directorate. It’s a policy matter.
The Chairperson: Time is not yet over, but there is no question. So, I put the question.
Ministry of Education and Human Resources – Programme Code 425: Technical and Vocational Education and Training (Rs486,000,000) was, on question put, agreed to.
Ministry of Education and Human Resources – Programme Code 428: Special Education Needs of School Age Children was called.
Mrs Labelle: I am on page 376, item 28211023 - Special Needs Schools and Day Care Centres, there is an amount of Rs60 m. Item 31112002 - Construction and Extension of Schools where is budgeted an amount of Rs32 m. Mr Chairperson, I would like to know whether this amount of Rs32 m. includes Rs20 m. for the rehabilitation of Sewraz Government School at Triolet, as mentioned in the Budget Speech, and the Rs32 m. for the construction of the three schools mentioned? In the Budget Speech we were told that three schools will be constructed to the tune of R32 m. So, this goes for that. Where is the amount of Rs20 m. for the rehabilitation of the Sewraz Government School of Triolet? Where is the Budget allocation of Rs20 m., from which item?
Dr. Bunwaree: Sewraz Government School is something different.
C’est under Sub-Programme 423. I talked about that a few minutes ago. C’est l’école primaire de Triolet. Ici, on parle des écoles SEN. Il y a trois SEN schools qui vont être construites. On l’a dit dans le budget. These are provisions made for the cost of non-residential buildings, setting up of two additional SEN Resource and Development Centres and one integrated unit. Raj Kumar Gujadhur R 21 millions; Rivière de Anguilles: R 10 millions; Burrenchobay Integrated
Unit: R 1 millions. Total: R 32 millions.
Mr Obeegadoo: On page 376, item 28211023- Special Needs Schools and Day Care Centres. This is the increase of Rs30 m. that the Minister of Finance mentioned in his Budget, speaking of parity in treatment. We, on this side of the House, are very doubtful about that.
Could the Minister, therefore, before we vote that amount, explain to us how parity is reached in terms of per capacity spending for fully able children in public schools or in private aided schools and in these centres or day care centres, the per capita spending, whether at primary or secondary level?
Dr. Bunwaree: Je crois que l’honorable membre doit être d’accord qu’au moins on est arrivé à parité. Il a peut-être des doutes, mais on va éclaircir cela. Tant que ma mémoire me sert correctement, on a pris en considération le recurrent cost, ce qu’on dépense de façon récurrente pour un enfant dans une école normale, un mainstream habituel, et pour un enfant dans ces écoles spécialisées. Et puis on a pris une partie du capital grant, c’est-à-dire le wear and tear, parce qu’il y a des maintenances à faire, des meubles qui doivent être réparés, etc. On n’a pas
pris les constructions des écoles, ça c’est quelque chose en dehors. Quand on a pris ces items - tant que ma mémoire me sert correctement - on est arrivé à la parité. Cela veut dire qu’on dépense pratiquement de la même façon per head dans une école mainstream tout comme dans une école spécialisée. Je pense que c’est une révolution. C’est la première fois dans ce pays que nous avons…
The Chairperson: No interruptions!
Please! If there is going to be interruptions, we will be wasting time, because you have 20 minutes per each Programme Code. Let the Minister answer !
Dr. Bunwaree: Ils ont fait des efforts, mais ils n’avaient pas réussi là-dessus. C’est la première fois. Aujourd’hui même, j’ai eu une lettre de l’APEIM qui maintenant veut travailler avec le ministère car ils ont compris que ce qu’on faisait c’était pour le bien-être de tous ces enfants qui sont en difficulté. On est arrivé maintenant à la parité, et c’est la première dans ce pays qu’un enfant handicapé n’est pas considéré autrement ; il est considéré exactement comme
un enfant dans une école normale.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr Chairperson, on page 376, item 28211023 – Special Needs Schools and Day Care Centres. May I ask the hon. Minister the number of institutions which will be benefitting from this vote and the number of students concerned?
Dr. Bunwaree: Le nombre d’institutions c’est 37, si je ne me trompe pas.
The Chairperson: The hon. Minister can circulate the information if he does not have it at hand, or if it is available, he can provide them.
Dr. Bunwaree: I will submit to the House the number of children as well.
Mrs Ribot: I am referring to page 376, item 31122821- Acquisition of Braille PC for Visually Impaired Children.
The Chairperson: There is too much talking on my right. Yes, put your question!
Mrs Ribot: I would like to know from the hon. Minister the number of visually impaired children who have benefitted and who will benefit from the Braille PC, and if all visually impaired children are going to benefit from such a PC.
Dr. Bunwaree: Certainement ! Il n’y a pas de problème là-dessus. Ce gouvernement ne fait pas de différence entre les malvoyants ou les non-voyants. I must tell the hon. Member that the aim of the project is to enable the Ministry to attend its strategic objective to provide equal opportunities for learners, and all children in Mauritius will be enjoying access to the relevant high quality education.
Il y a 58 enfants with visual impairment who will benefit as follows: 21 blinds and with low vision. Je dois quand même dire – c’est la note officielle – qu’il y a des personnes malvoyantes et aveugles qui sont venues me voir pour attirer mon attention vers une possible difficulté en ce qui concerne la façon dont les mathématiques ou certains autres sujets sont enseignés, et que c’est peut-être pas la façon idéale. La décision a été prise, on va prendre cela en considération. Mais il faudra aussi que ces personnes utilisent efficacement les appareils qui sont mis à leur disposition.
Mr Obeegadoo: I go back to an issue which I raised earlier. On page 376, item 28211023 - Special Needs Schools and Day Care Centres. I would like to know from the Minister how he proposes to disburse the amount of Rs60.8 m. which he is asking us to approve, inasmuch as there is now an association of all the schools for disabled children that has written to the Minister, and to the Minister of Finance, with precise proposals, with a formula as for the private secondary schools offering a partnership, which has been largely ignored by Government. So, I want to know. Now that this money has been voted – and we are very happy, it is there – how will it be disbursed? Will it be disbursed unilaterally, will it be disbursed in partnership or will there be a formula as for private secondary schools?
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, there is a report which has been prepared by a very competent group at the level of the Ministry with certain expert persons and this has been discussed with the Ministry of Finance. It is on the basis of this that the decision has been taken to go in the direction I have mentioned just now. I must say that we have taken care also of the personnel who work in these schools. We have sent the request to the Ministry of Labour to see to it that all workers who work there are paid comme il se doit, selon les règlements de la loi. Donc, on va
avoir la possibilité d’avoir des personnes qui sont payées pareil. En plus, on a fait une ouverture extraordinaire…
Mais pour le personnel.
Mais le personnel doit être payé !
Mr Obeegadoo: Maybe, the Minister misunderstood. Let me ask again. I am not talking about the personnel. We are asked to vote a Budget, I want to know from the Minister how this is going to be disbursed. What is the formula? The schools have made a precise proposal which has been totally ignored, they have offered partnership; they have offered the same formula as for private secondary schools – PSSA. Will that be adopted?
Dr. Bunwaree: I said they have discussed regularly with us. On a travaillé ensemble avec eux. L’honorable membre vient de me dire quelque chose, mais en dehors de cela, nous sommes en très bons termes avec toutes ces personnes. Aujourd’hui même, j’ai reçu une letter d’eux pour me dire qu’ils remercient le gouvernement, parce qu’avant ils n’avaient pas tous les renseignements. Donc, ils vont être payés comme ils avaient l’habitude d’être payé, mais seulement on met des conditions, il faut que les profs soient payés comme il se doit ; il ne faut
pas avoir des personnes travaillent et qui ne sont pas payées à leur juste valeur. En plus, maintenant il y a des profs qui travaillent dans ces écoles, qui n’ont pas les certificats, parce qu’ils n’ont pas été formés comme cela se devait dans le temps.
Mais ils ont de l’expérience. Là aussi on a mis recognition of prior learning. C'est-à-dire que ces personnes pourront avoir un diplôme avec une petite formation. Donc, ils auront les mêmes salaires que ceux qui sont payés au niveau du système gouvernemental. Donc, on a mis une égalisation dedans. Donc l’honorable membre, vous devez être content.
The Chairperson: Okay. Too long! Yes, hon. Uteem!
Mr Uteem: Mr Chairperson, on item 31122821…
The Chairperson: Which page?
Mr Uteem: At page 376, under item 31122821 Acquisition of Braille PC for Visually Impaired Children, may I know from the hon. Minister whether those PC will be given to the visually impaired children or to the institution and whether the scheme of providing laptops albeit with specialised keyboard will be provided to these…
The Chairperson: Silence!
Mr Uteem: … visually impaired children as well?
Dr. Bunwaree: According to Government Programme 2012-2015, provision is for
All children with visual impairment, not for the school, but for the children.
Mr Baloomoody: Can I take the hon. Minister to the first item on this programme - Compensation of Employees? We are being asked to vote a Budget of Rs18,470,000. But when we look at page 385 for the same programme, we find that there is no personnel as such. We have only two Inspectors in specialised needs schools and three Head School Teachers. So, can I know from the hon. Minister what is the position with regard to the personnel?
Dr. Bunwaree: En ce qui concerne le personnel, je ne pense pas qu’il y a des problems parce qu’on est en train de suivre cela. Moi-même je suis très attaché à cet aspect. Provision that appears here is for the salary of additional 29 Educators in SEN schools in 2014.
Mr Ganoo: Mr Chairperson, I come back on Special Needs Schools and Day Care
Centres, item 28211023…
The Chairperson: 023.
Mr Ganoo: Yes, 023. The question that I want to put to the hon. Minister is - I heard him replying to hon. Obeegadoo about this question of parity and how this figure of Rs60,800,000 has been reached. But my point is that when we look at the Estimates for 2013, it is clear that this sum has been doubled and we reached the figure of Rs60,800,000. But the question I want to put to the hon. Minister, the way to calculate the estimates if we want parity should have been –
(a) how many children are attending the Special Needs Schools and Day Care Centres, and
(b) what is the quantum being allocated today to the children going to mainstream
And the difference between these two figures times the number of children attending the SEN schools, then we would have reached the figure. But does that figure, when computed, reach exactly Rs60,800,000?
Dr. Bunwaree: If you say exactly to the cent, I do not know. But it is approximately the same. I do not know whether the hon. Member was here, I have explained how we have come to those figures. We have taken into consideration what is spent recurrently for these children in those schools and we have also taken into consideration what is spent for the wear and tear…
Yes, I can circulate the figures. No problem! It is in the report.
Mrs Labelle: Mr Chairperson, I am on page 376, item 31122821 – Acquisition of Braille PC for Visually Impaired Children, there was an amount of Rs9 m. last year. May we know whether this amount has been spent on this item and how many have benefited and there is a decrease compared for the amount we are voting for this year? It is now Rs1.5 m. and last year it was Rs9 m. Can we know whether this amount has been used and how many children have benefited for the current year 2013.
Dr. Bunwaree: A second tender was launched - because there was a first one and a second one - on 18 June 2013 for Braille PCs screen reader and screen magnifier. The bid evaluation is ongoing.
As soon as it is done, it will be spent. The provision of Rs1.5 m. is made to cater for additional number of children in the coming year.
The Chairperson: Hon. Jhugroo, do you have a question?
Mr Jhugroo: At page 376 Programme Code 428, item 21. Following the question asked by my hon. friend Baloomoody and the reply from the hon. Minister that 29 new Educators will be recruited by next year, can the hon. Minister inform the House whether these posts will be advertised?
The Chairperson: Whether the posts will be advertised.
Dr. Bunwaree: They are SEN Educators, there could be some specific conditions, but, of course, it will be very transparent and open.
Mr Obeegadoo: Under item 31112 – Non-Residential Buildings, I am sure this sum refers to the three SEN resource centres that were announced in the Budget.
Will the Minister confirm that these three SEN centres are in fact resource centres? They will not be schools with a permanent school population but they will be resource centres made available to teachers or students who wish to make use of facilities there.
Dr. Bunwaree: C’est une question qui risque de me prendre beaucoup de temps. Je vais essayer de le dire en deux mots. Il y a deux choses qu’on fait. Premièrement, c’est un centre de ressources effectivement qui va drainer des enfants handicapés qui fréquentent d’autres écoles pour une forme d’éducation qu’ils ne peuvent pas avoir dans leur école.
Oui, permanent. Et deuxièmement, comme ces centres, par exemple, à Ferney c’était un bâtiment qui a été transformé où il y a beaucoup d’espace et aussi parce qu’on n’a pas tellement de personnes pour fréquenter l’école hyper spécialisée, une partie de l’école est utilisée pour régionaliser un peu le domaine des écoles pour les handicapés dans les domaines qui existent déjà. Donc, au lieu que les aveugles, par exemple, sortent de la région de Grand Port pour aller à Curepipe tous les jours, ils iront à cet endroit là. Donc, on régionalise parce qu’on a les moyens.
Mais, essentiellement ces écoles they are meant for specialised schools.
The Chairperson: Yes. We are left with one minute!
Mr Obeegadoo: Yes, in that case, if I follow on page 385, Programme Code 428 where is the trained, experienced staff to man these resource centres if they are going to accommodate a permanent school population?
Dr. Bunwaree: Oui, on est en train de travailler au fur et à mesure. Il y a des étudiants de l’université qui sont là-bas et qui ont déjà eu leur diplôme. Au fur et à mesure que ces centres vont être mis sur pied on aura le personnel. Même s’il faut prendre de l’étranger, j’ai dit que je prendrais mais il faut travailler dans cette direction.
The Chairperson: Time is up!
Ministry of Education and Human Resources – Programme Code 428: Special Education Needs of School Age Children (Rs118,180,000) was, on question put, agreed to.
The Chairperson: That will be the last programme under the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, then we will break.
Ministry of Education and Human Resources – Programme Code 429: Human Resource Development was called.
The Chairperson: Hon. Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun!
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr Chairperson, on page 377, item 28212008 – Scholarships to foreign Students, may I ask the hon. Minister the number of foreign students having benefited from this scholarship and the institutions to which they have been sent?
The Chairperson: Yes, it is a direct question, Minister!
Dr. Bunwaree: What does the hon. Member want to know about that?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: I would like to know the number of students who received the scholarship and the institutions to which they have been sent.
Dr. Bunwaree: I will have the figures and circulate them.
The Chairperson: Yes, second question hon. Obeegadoo!
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Chairperson, I do not know whether you have looked at page 386…
The Chairperson: 386?
Mr Obeegadoo: Yes, 386 Programme Code 429. I am very, very troubled.
The Chairperson: Troubled?
Mr Obeegadoo: For this programme which is Human Resource Development…
The Chairperson: You should not be!
Mr Obeegadoo: I am very worried, Mr Chairperson, and I will explain why. The
Ministry is called Ministry of Education and Human Resources. If you look at Human Resource Development there are only seven persons in that Unit. Now, we are being asked to vote a Budget and the sum, as you know, Mr Chairperson, is on page 377. Last year, I raised this question and we discovered that all the posts were empty, Director, Senior Analyst and so on, and I asked the hon. Minister how it was and he said: “Don’t worry, it will be restructured”.
Now, instead of being restructured, it has disappeared altogether.
In other words, Human Resource Development within the understanding of the hon. Minister is limited to seven persons employed in Careers Guidance. So, I am asking, what is this Budget we are voting? Where is human resources? Should the Ministry change its name?
Dr. Bunwaree: Well, this question was, in fact, put to me last year and we were in the thinking process and, at the same time, trying to see what could be done to restructure, because it is a very important part of that Ministry. Now, for the time being, I don’t know, things may change, but up to now, we are manning that Unit wonderfully well. So, we have not found the necessity to appoint people as we had seemed to propose in the first instance. But, the time will see what the best thing is, but I can say that I am getting satisfaction for the time being with the
work that is being done insofar as this unit is concerned. We have the Careers Guidance which is being revamped completely at the level of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, and we are working also with the HRD Council together to find a better way to guide our students when they are in Secondary Schools. But, there is not only career guidance; there is the whole development process of human resource.
The Chairperson: Yes, hon. Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun!
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Page 377, item 28212025 - Financial Assistance Schemes to Students, I have noted that there is no vote for year 2013 and that the sum for the next year is Rs3 m. May I ask the hon. Minister whether this assistance goes to children who look for assistance to go to the University of Mauritius? Is this the amount, the assistance provided to Mauritian students attending our local universities?
Dr. Bunwaree: There are various ways of helping students in difficulties who go to the University. This is one way, but there are so many others. I will inform the hon. Member that 582 students whose scholarships have been extended under the ex-HRD Fund are taken care of and the new scholarship for children, the question that is being put, coming from vulnerable families who qualify through the Social Register of Mauritius and who have a minimum of 21 marks at HSC level are going to be taken care of with Rs100,000 maximum per year per student.
The Chairperson: Yes, hon. Uteem!
Mr Uteem: Thank you, Mr Chairperson. On page 377, in relation to item 21 -
Compensation of Employees, under Careers Guidance, may I know from the hon. Minister how many career fairs have been organised by these employees?
Dr. Bunwaree: Well, career fair is not organised by the Ministry. We do help people to organise fairs, but we don’t organise the fairs ourselves. There are so many institutions that do it. But, ici c’est différent. There is the setting up of a Career Guidance Desk at the level of every Secondary School. A n’importe quel moment un élève de secondaire veut avoir des renseignements etc., il y a une équipe spécialisée qui travaille avec le HRD Council pour orienter ces enfants. Mais je ne vais pas entrer plus dans les détails, parce que ce n’est pas
encore bien rodé, je dois dire, mais on a déjà démarré cela pour aller dans cette direction.
The Chairperson: Hon. Baloomoody!
Mr Baloomoody: Can I take the hon. Minister to page 378, item 26 – Grants, this year, we are paying, in fact, more than Rs40 m. that we did last year to the MIE. I am sure, like in the case of the MITD, the hon. Minister must have been submitted with a list of staff, their position and their running cost and also, what they intend to do for the capital grant of Rs24,700,000?
Can I ask the hon. Minister whether he is prepared to lay on the Table the list of the staff of the MIE, their position and qualification and also the intention of the MIE with regard to the use of the Rs24,700,000 for capital grant?
Dr. Bunwaree: In fact, là-aussi je dois dire, M. le président, que le MIE est en train de faire un travail formidable parce que pour les Special Needs Educators, là-aussi c’est une reforme pour la première fois à Maurice. On forme ces Special Needs Educators qui…
Dr. Bunwaree: Non, mais c’est le MIE.
Excuse me. I want to give you what I want to give you.
The Chairperson: No, no, no. I disagree with the hon. Minister. You cannot decide for yourself when a question is put. If the question requires you to give a list, you have to give the list or not.
Dr. Bunwaree: I am going to give the list, Mr Chairperson - I am sorry for the mishap - but I see extension to MIE buildings Rs20 m., electrical infrastructure in all MIE buildings and office furniture and equipment. But I have to add that we have to give support to MIE for the formidable work that they are doing in the process of the renovation and innovation in education.
The Chairperson: And, the list?
You may circulate it hon. Minister!
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes, I will circulate it.
The Chairperson: Hon. Obeegadoo!
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Chairperson, I want some clarification...
The Chairperson: There is a question coming?
Mr Obeegadoo: Yes. Pages 377 and 378. We have all the different Sub-Programmes under this vote.
Dr. Bunwaree: Page 377.
Mr Obeegadoo: Pages 377 and 378. There are all the budgets in respect of each Sub- Programme. I am asking the hon. Minister how this tallies with what we see at page 386 where there is staffing only for Careers Guidance.
In other words, we are voting funds under Scholarships and other Financial Assistance Schemes to Students. There is a sub-programme, we are voting the funds, but there is no staff to manage. Look at page 386. There is nobody in post and there is nobody to be in post by December 2014, on page 386.
Now, similarly for School Staff Development, Research and Curriculum Development, the hon. Minister has chosen to place the sub-programme within this programme. Where is the staff as at page 386? Similarly, for Financing of Training and if I may go one step further, what has happened to the Human Resource Development Council at item 26313023 where there is no monies attributed? Has that been transferred to another Ministry? Who is handling the HRDC?
Dr. Bunwaree: Le HRDC se débrouille très bien par eux-mêmes d’ailleurs. Mais, there is a directorate, at the level of the Ministry, for HR; there is a directorate for scholarship. All these people are already working there. They have not found the need...
The Chairperson: There is a bit of noise! Please!
Dr. Bunwaree: There is no need, for the time being, for additional staff, but there are already people working there.
Mr Obeegadoo: On a point of clarification, this is budgetary procedure. The hon.
Minister is former Minister of Finance, just to clarify, can we have a programme with monies budgeted here under this programme, but then, the staff under corresponding to the subprogrammeis nil and the staff is somewhere else, how can we tally the funds with the staff?
The Chairperson: But, the Minister is no more the Minister of Finance!
How can he answer for the Minister of Finance?
Mr Obeegadoo: In respect of his Ministry now.
The Chairperson: I don’t know. He is the Minister of Education and Human Resources, not the Minister of Finance. But, being given his experience, he may answer though it is not in order for him to answer.
Dr. Bunwaree: Should I answer?
Dr. Bunwaree: I will just tell the hon. Member what I have said in the beginning that he must look at the Budget pas seulement avec ces deux bouts, il faut regarder complètement.
There is staff ventilated in other programmes and in other sub-programmes, staff of Government Department, but not of parastatal that are reflected in the HR. Il était ministre, il devrait savoir.
Mr Uteem: On page 377, still under programme 429: Human Resource Development, under item 21 – Compensation of Employees. Unlike other the programmes there is no line Budget for studies and surveys. So, may I ask the hon. Minister whether the people in his Ministry responsible for Careers Guidance, has made any study or survey about the demand projection for Mauritius and for how many years ahead?
Dr. Bunwaree: This is the responsibility of Human Resource Council and they do the survey and research. In fact, if I have time, I would have told you, but I am going to circulate it for the benefit of hon. Members, the surveys that have already been carried in the course of last year, to be able to say in what direction Mauritius is going on the point of training for the years that are in front of us.
Mr Obeegadoo: Before we vote this Budget, the hon. Minister will surely help us to understand what is the mystery? Are we to understand – I am still under item 26313023 – that the HRDC is now a standalone institution that does not benefit from any State funding, whether from the Ministry of Education or any other Ministries and if that is the case, I am asking the hon. Minister, how is it that the Ministry, for which we are voting the Budget proposed, is entrusted with policy development, has got rid of all its Human Resource Analysts and is now leaving the task to the HRDC? How can we vote this Budget when this Ministry came from a fusion of Education and Skill Development with a number of Human Resource Analysts who have all disappeared?
The Chairperson: I do not see the relevance of this question.
Dr. Bunwaree: Yes.
The Chairperson: To what item it is? Hon. Mrs Labelle, put your question!
Silence! Let us listen to hon. Mrs Labelle!
Mrs Labelle: Thank you, Mr Chairperson. I am under Programme 429: Human
The Chairperson: Do not disturb the hon. Member!
Mrs Labelle: When I go to the different sub-programmes, and on page 386, I can see the funded positions for the different sub-programmes; be it for sub-programme 42901 and for the others, which are parastatal and the Minister will circulate. My question is: under the Programme 429 - is it possible for us to have a list of personnel under this programme.
Dr. Bunwaree: Il n’y a pas de problème là-dessus. To make things clearer, I come back to one question that I have replied légèrement. It is not intended - I say - for the time being to fill the vacant post in 2014 for Human Resource Development. It is the responsibility for the unit which devolves on a team comprising a Permanent Secretary, a Deputy Permanent Secretary, a Director Education who is in charge of HR Directorate, relevant support staff, including the Analysts, which the hon. Member was mentioning just now. The work is being done professionally and efficiently and it is yielding results.
Now, the HRD Council is not getting any money – I think two years – from Government.
They are managing on the levy that they get from the other sectors. Ils sont en train de faire leur travail. Mais ils avaient aussi des réserves que le ministère des Finances a cru, qu’ils doivent d’abord utiliser. S’ils ont besoin, over and above that, they can always come to the Minister of Finance through the Minister of Education, if they need money.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Chairperson, I am referring to page 377, items 28212009,
28212010, 28212011 and 28212012, I would like to ask the hon. Minister that we are spending a huge amount of money on these scholarships, what motivated his decision not to compel these students to come back after their studies especially as the Budget has mentioned that Mauritius needs to attract a pool of talents?
Dr. Bunwaree: If the hon. Member puts a proper question in PQ, I will answer.
The Chairperson: Hon. Obeegadoo!
You have a question or not!
Mr Obeegadoo: I do. Yes, Very much so!
Mr Chairperson: Put your question! I surprise that hon. Members. Are not following what ...
I know it is tea time, but we will out time to finish this.
Mr Obeegadoo: I want some clarifications from the hon. Minister under this general programme, human resource development. I have read at page 353 that the first major constraint identified by Government is the need to reduce the mismatch of skills. I have noted at page 356 that Government wishes to improve facilitate employability and is seeking to develop an overall strategy. My question is to ask the hon. Minister of Education since there is no staff at page 386, but we are being asked to vote a budget, whether his Ministry for 2014 has any technical staff -
what used to be human resource analyst – trained to do this job of developing policy as regards human resource development overall at the Ministry of Education or has this role been completely relinquished in favour of the HRDC?
Dr. Bunwaree: The unit I mentioned just now with the PS etc. is the unit responsible – the whole unit, there is at the Head a PS – for all policies and strategies with regard to HR, TVET and training and it is working properly and efficiently. For the question of mismatch and so on, I don’t know whether the question was put to me.
The Chairperson: The hon. Minister is fully aware that we are not dealing with policy matters.
Dr. Bunwaree: I am going to circulate for the hon. Member to know what is happening.
The Chairperson: Okay, you circulate. Time is up!
Programme Code 429: Human Resource Development (Rs 479,130,000) was, on
question put, agreed to.
The Chairperson: I suspend for half an hour.
At 5.20 p.m. the sitting was suspended.
DIABETES – CHILDREN - TREATMENT (03/03/15)
(No. B/141) Mr K. Ramano (Third Member for Belle Rose & Quatre Bornes) asked the Minister of Health and Quality of Life whether, in regard to diabetes, he will state the number of children presently under treatment in relation thereto, indicating if Government is envisaging a permanent sponsorship of medical treatment for such patients.
Reply: In reply to the first part of the question, I wish to inform the House that according to the National Diabetes Register, there are presently 520 Type 1 diabetic patients, of whom 180 are below the age of 18. As regards Type 2 diabetes, the number of children below 18 years is 36.
In regard to the second part of the question, I wish to emphasise that in Mauritius, health services, at all levels, from primary to tertiary is free of user cost.
I wish to elaborate on the services that are presently provided to diabetic patients.
These are namely –
comprehensive paediatric diabetic management programmes for such patients in all Regional Hospitals;
support of all activities related to diabetes care by Diabetes Specialist Nurses;
provision of glucose meters, testing strips as well as latest insulin analogues to all children with Type 1 diabetes aiming at achieving excellent control of blood sugar;
conduct of open day activities whereby such patients are screened for eye, kidney and cardiac complications. In addition their blood glucose level and oral health are assessed;
screening of students of Form III, that is between 13 to 14 years and Lower VI, that is between 17 to 18 years for Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) risk factors. Those who are obese with a family history of diabetes are referred for further investigations and follow up, and
conduct of sensitisation and health education programme on diabetes on a regular basis to both patients and parents.
Government Programme (2015/2019) – 05/03/15
The Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and
Scientific Research (Mr L. D. Dookun-Luchoomun): Madam Speaker, allow be at the very outset to extend to you, Madam, my warmest congratulations for occupying such a high constitutional post. Knowing you and especially keeping in view the way you have been managing the proceedings of this august Assembly so far, I have absolutely no doubt that all the hon. Members feel the gavel is in the right hand. My congratulations also go to the young Deputy Speaker, hon. Adrien Duval.
Madam Speaker, I stand before you as Minister of Education and Human Resources, with the additional responsibilities of Tertiary Education and Scientific Research.
But I also stand as a politician who would wish to start her intervention on the
Government Programme with words of reassurance meant for the hon. Members of the Opposition.
Yes, it is true that we do have a substantial majority in this House, and yes, we could easily override any objection or opinion emerging from the other side of the House.
But we, who have been called upon to assume the heavy and demanding
responsibilities of Government will not shy away from the viewpoints albeit from the other side of the House.
I believe, Madam Speaker, that there is one lesson that the last elections taught us, that is, provided we are willing to open our eyes and ears to see and hear. It is a lesson in humility.
At this stage, I will allow myself a digression to take up something that is still fresh in all our minds. Last year, at this time of the year, we recall the ‘birthday cake episode’ when the MMM/MSM Remake had reached cruising speed. At that time, nobody would have bet a single cent that on the capacity of the then Government to return to power.
But then, Madam Speaker, that was before the bait was dangled to catch the shark!
Madam Speaker, I am not being facetious or even seeking to twirl the knife in the
wound. The reason that I am going back to this ill-fated alliance between the MMM and the Labour Party is to precisely indicate what happens when overconfidence holds supreme sway and goes to the heads of people.
Moral thinking often refers to what are called ‘7’ Deadly Sins’: wrath, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, sloth and pride.
Remember this last one - pride and its brother in arms, arrogance - and how they
manifested themselves all through the electoral campaign. Some leaders felt they were invincible. They were unbeatable because they felt they could take the people for a ride.
Indeed, they believed that ‘le peuple admirable’ could be taken for granted. That le
peuple would unquestioningly and placidly accept to swallow anything and everything – hook, line and sinker. They felt they would be out and out winners.
But, Madam Speaker, they forgot one universal truth: what really matters – “is not the size of the dog in the fight, it is the size of the fight in the dog”. I have to salute le people admirable, indeedfor beingpellucid and open eyed. We have to show our appreciation for the people for being coherent in their thinking, for not allowing considerations other than national well-being to be in the forefront.
You will appreciate, therefore, Madam Speaker, why I referred earlier to the
importance of being humble. The people, in their wisdom, preferred to place their trust in those who demonstrated no pride, no arrogance, but who are humble despite the landslide victory.
So, I would state again the important lesson in humility that the last elections
highlighted. As a humble person, I am willing to accept that I do not have the monopoly of knowledge, that is, infinite, let alone the monopoly of wisdom. The hon. Members of this House will appreciate that the world of education and training is a domain that logically cuts across-party politics and partisan lines.
We all have a stake in education. Someone somewhere whom we know, whom we are related to, is impacted upon directly by educational policies and decisions we take. In fact, a diversity of views and opinions can only be welcomed.
Not simply because such diversity enriches the debate on education, but also because it shows that everybody feels highly concerned about it. So, I would be more than willing to listen to alternative views and suggestions. However, it is worth underlying that this Government has a mission to fulfill, goals to meet and targets to attain. We are, therefore, not likely to have spanners thrown into the wheel just because of political gimmickry.
Madam Speaker, StephenCovey, the management guru, once said -
“You can retire from a job, but don't ever retire from making extremely
meaningful contributions in life”.
Professionally, I started as a teacher and I hope my students will remember me as a person who made some difference to their lives. And although I am away from the school compound today, I must confess that I am actually very honoured to have belonged to the family of educators. I feel all the more honoured, now that I have been invested with the responsibility of the education portfolio, to be given the opportunity to make extremely meaningful contributions to the lives of so many learners.
In parenthesis, Madam Speaker, allow me to express my heartfelt gratitude to our
Prime Minister, Sir Anerood Jugnauth, for having shown so much of trust in me and putting me in charge of a portfolio that is a driver of change, of innovation and of development.
The contributions that I was just talking about, Madam Speaker, are not going to be just meaningful, but far-reaching as well.
Madam Speaker, let us take the pre-primary subsector of our education system. We all know the significance we attach to the learning experience at a formative period in a child’s life. There is no doubt that some sound work has been done so as to enrol more and more children in pre-schools and this since the 1980’s.It is important for all children to secure the experience of early childhood education, an experience that will act as a foundation to scaffold new learning on. Madam Speaker, we must now think beyond enrolment rates. We must think seriously about enhancing the quality of education. We need a proper Quality Assurance Unit for the Early Childhood Care and Education Authority, to ensure that a
proper and uniform standard is attained in all pre-primary schools, public and private, so as to elimate the wide disparity that exists today.
It is important that we do not limit ourselves, however, to our boundaries. We have to go continental, so as to share our experience and our expertise with others.
I am glad to inform the House that the Association for the Development of Education in Africa has requested Mauritius to lead and drive the Inter-Country Quality Node on Early Childhood Development. It is from this perspective that in February itself I had the opportunity to formally launch the Inter-Country Quality Node on Early Childhood Development, commonly referred to as the ICQN ECD.
As hon. Members are probably aware, early childhood development is one of the
priority areas of the African Union Plan of Action for the Second Decade in Education in Africa. The Inter-Country Quality Node for an Early Education Development is thus an intergovernmental organisation for policy dialogue and collaborative action among African Ministers of Education, strategic partners for advancing early childhood development agenda in Africa.
The collaborative approach relies on a networking of African countries, institutions and experts for exchange of knowlegde on concepts, research findings and capacity building.
Mauritius will lead the ICQN for early childhood development, and will act as a regional platform for capacity building, knowledge sharing, peer-learning, establishing community of practice and disseminate findings of policy research for countries to translate into effective early childhood development policies, and this will develop common core skills in early childhood development that countries can put at the heart of good quality and relevant basic education.
With regard to the primary and secondary sub-sectors, the Government Programme states in clear terms our determination to make 9 years of basic continuous schooling a reality. For quite some time, my predecessor in office had been proposing to make the 9-year basic continuous education operational. The concept of the nine-year schooling itself is in line with international trends, with many countries, including Finland, having adopted the principles of inclusive and holistic basic education.
On the other hand, it is also the preparatory stage for lifelong learning, which has
become a crying need today. This, in order to free our children from highly competitive system that is burdening them since long time, and which has prevented their proper holistic development.
It has become our duty today to relieve our children and to give back to our children their childhood, and allow them to learn and develop in a right and conducive environment.
It is of crucial importance for children to be given the opportunity to develop all their potentials and talents, and to grow up to become creative, versatile and critical thinkers having problem solving skills, and ready to face the challenges of this new era.
I believe that we have today reached a defining moment in the history of education.
Today, Government, teachers, parents all have the same objective, that of giving our children the best education and allowing them to have a holistic development.
The French critic and historian, Hippolyte Adolphe Taine, once wrote that history is clearly made when three factors synergistically come into operation –
« L’homme, le moment et le milieu. »
Et le gouvernement est pleinement conscient de cette synergie, et sous aucun prétexte, nous ne laisserons échapper cette opportunité qui se présente à nous de faire de Maurice un pays où les enfants pourront s’épanouir pleinement. Si la population a placé sa confiance en ce gouvernement, c’est justement pour qu’il se fixe comme objectif principal le bien-être de ce peuple. On ne peut se permettre d’échouer quand on a quelqu’un de visionnaire, d’avantgardiste, mais aussi surtout pragmatique que notre Premier ministre Sir Anerood Jugnauth.
Les parents sont soucieux de l’avenir de leurs enfants ; cela tout à fait légitime. Mais, quand ce même enfant est dépourvu des moments de loisir, comment peut-on prétendre à un épanouissement complet? Madame la présidente, il est essentiel que tout cela change, et la tâche de combattre cette perversion de l’aprentissage chez les jeunes nous revient à nous. On veut que renaissent ce dynamisme, cet entousiame, ce sens de débrouillardise, et surtout la curiosité tellement nécessaire pour un aprentisage fructueux et sain.
On a beaucoup parlé de taux d’échec des enfants au niveau de la CPE. L’ancien
régime est même venu avec une mesure pour qu’ils puissent reprendre les examens une deuxième fois en décembre. Mais, pour vraiment aider un enfant à réussir, il est crucial d’identifier très tôt les élèves ayant des difficultés d’apprentissage, afin d’éviter un échec plus tard. Je voudrais informer mes collègues du Parlement que mon ministère met sur pied une unité, la ‘Remedial Unit’, dans chaque école primaire, pour s’assurer que les enfants ayant des difficultés d’apprentissage, dès la première année du cycle primaire, soit pris en main.
Aussi, l’éducation physique et les arts feront aussi parti du cursus scolaire.
Let me assure the House that my Ministry is very soon coming with the
implementation of the 9-year basic schooling plan. Of course, that will be subjected to widespread discussions with stakeholders prior to full execution. But let me inform the House in no uncertain terms that, during the nine years of continuous and basic schooling, learners will be expected to acquire appropriate levels of literacy, numeracy, and most importantly life skills while also imbibing the relevant moral, ethical and civic values.
Madam Speaker, values education will certainly form part of the curriculum. Reference to values, Madam, brings to my mind this quote from Theodore Roosevelt – “To educate a person in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society”.
For a long time, questions have been raised as to the type of person we want to see
emerging from our education system. Do we want to perpetrate the existing system that leaves a number of pupils and students on the wayside? Is it not our responsibility to give them a school of experience that is fulfilling in more ways than one? Should an education system worthy of the name not seek to cater for the emergence of a whole person? It is true that, today, companies, whether national or international, the corporate sector, are all headhunting for people with higher skills set. They are looking for people who are capable of thinking in an independent way and have easy communication skills, epecially, the openness
to novel ideas and adapting to changes of the new fundamentals of high-end occupations.
The discourse today is on the 21st century skills. Jacques Delors “Learning to Learn” and “Learning to Live Together” are today gaining greater currency than never before. All these certainly posit new challenges to the education system and demand that they be confronted and addressed. And this Government, Madam Speaker, will deliver.
But what also comes out loud and clear, Madam Speaker, is that, if, on the other hand, we do not want a skills slowdown that would be catastrophic for the country, on the otherhand, we do not want onedimensional people who concentrate exclusively on their material well-being. We want the system to cater for the integral development of our learners.
You will note that the private providers of primary and secondary education do that quite well – but there is still a dearth of activities in the public schools that would cater for the whole person. It is in this context that I would wish to highlight one major measure mentioned in the Government Programme.
This relates to the setting up of a school of arts to promote the holistic learner development.
Madam Speaker, Dreda Say Mitchell, the award-winning crime novelist as well as
freelance Education Consultant, wrote in The Guardian in April 2014 -
“Art isn’t an extra; it’s an integral part of a well-balanced education curriculum.
The private school youngsters standing at a bus stop with a musical instrument strapped to their back is a familiar sight. We need state school students with instruments, easels and scripts standing there too.”
Lest we forget, the Arts - whether it is Performing Arts, the Crafts, etc. – help us to look at life differently, to use our imagination differently and, especially give a booster to potentials that are latent for so many students and youths.
However, Madam Speaker, this also presupposes that we are able to provide for
genuine equity in the system.
Today, in the world of Education, a concept that is fast catching on is what has been termed as the Education ‘tri-lemma: the ‘tri-lemma’ of access, quality and equity.
We have, today, won the access battle and the drive for quality in education is
inevitably bound to be an on-going feature. But, you cannot work wonders with kids coming to school on an empty stomach. Nor can we break the cycle of poverty, if we do not ensure that the home environment becomes a vector of change.
There are vulnerable groups in this society of whom it would be immoral to ask that they dig a little deeper in their pockets!
The Government Programme has hit the bull’s-eye with its series of equity measures.
I will only mention some of them, especially those having a bearing on the educational setup.
· The special financial assistance scheme to help students from modest families
to pursue tertiary education and thus contribute to their own economic and
· Measures that will facilitate the home ownership for economically and socially
· The provision of hot meals to primary school pupils.
· The provision of 100% subsidy for examination fees for SC and HSC students.
Madam Speaker, let me now come to a very important point. When we say that we are providing 100% subsidy for examination fees for SC and HSC students, we are removing hurdles. We are allowing young people from any walk of life to access to education and this is extremely important and this has always been in our philosophy.
Madam Speaker, let me now come to the tertiary sub-sector, the one that has remained in the news for a long time now - but for the wrong reasons altogether.
Allow me at the very outset state that we are very much keen on developing Mauritius into an Education and Knowledge Hub.
Et qui dit ‘centre de savoir’, dit ‘centres d’excellence’.
Allow me to use the definition of an Education Hub as given by Observatory on
Borderless Education for the benefit of the House.
It is defined as, I quote - ‘The process of building a critical mass of local and foreign actors – including students, education institutions, companies, knowledge industries, science and technology centres - who collaborate in a strategic way on cross border education, training, knowledge and innovation initiatives.’
No one can deny the significance of investing in this sub-sector.
The benefits are indeed numerous -
· Innovative national development can only become a reality when we have a
fit-for-purpose human capital formation.
· Higher levels of education are a guarantee for economic growth and therefore
for breaking the cycle of poverty.
· Equally significantly, higher education is strongly conducive to a successful
participation in the global knowledge economy.
· It is also critical for the promotion of faster technological growth and building
So, yes, we have to invest in Higher Education.
We have to encourage the provision of cross-border education and encourage regional student mobility.
We also need to create conditions that will attract the setting up of off-campus
branches and brand-name Tertiary Education Institutions in Mauritius. Many countries have shown that this has worked well for them: Dubai, Singapore, Malaysia are some of the favoured student destinations that come to my mind here.
Madam Speaker, the question needs to be asked: why has this scenario then not
worked for us? I believe we all in this House know exactly why. Somewhere, institutions have failed to fulfil those obligations and responsibilities that have been part of their mandate. Some of the institutions that have come here have been driven exclusively by ‘Profit Motive’. And during the last Regime, obtaining easy access to ministerial offices opened the door for a clear flouting of basic rules and regulations governing the sector. As Minister of Tertiary Education, I find myself opening a Pandora’s Box every time I come across one of those institutions.
Madame la présidente, il serait bon de souligner que l’ancien gouvernement, après les élections de 2010, est venu de l’avant avec la création du ministère de l’enseignement supérieur sous la tutelle de l’ancien ministre Jeetah. Dans pratiquement, chacun de ses discours et de ceux de l’ancien Premier ministre, mention été faite de cette initiative. Le gouvernement se félicitant à chaque fois de l’avènement de ce ministère. Tantôt qualifiée de sans précédent, tantôt qualifiée de décision audacieuse, tout a été fait pour présenter ce ministère à la population comme la réponse à la problématique que représentait le chômage parmi les jeunes et l’incapacité de l’Université de Maurice d’accueillir un plus grand nombre d’étudiants, mais surtout aussi pour vendre le slogan creux qu’avait trouvé le ministre d’alors, ‘One Graduate per Family’.
Madame la président, quatre ans après, le bilan était des moins honorables ! Une
période durant laquelle, le ministre Jeetah n’a fait que protéger ses proches. Je citerai, ici, l’exemple flagrant de l’EIILMUniversity, dirigée par le Trust familial dont il est, lui-même, un membre. Et aujourd’hui, il nous faut répondre de ses actes irréfléchis et irresponsables aux parents d’étudiants. Ces jeunes ont effectué en toute confiance des études à l’EIILM University. Leurs diplômes ne sont pas reconnus et ils ne savent plus à quel saint se vouer.
Pire, ces parents ont dû s’endetter pour financer les études de leurs enfants et, aujourd’hui, ils se retrouvent engloutis sous des dettes de plusieurs millions de roupies. Alors que le minister Jeetah, en tant que ministre de l’enseignement supérieur était mandaté au premier lieu de faire respecter la législation régissant ce secteur, il n’a fait qu’aller lui-même à l’encontre des procédures établies.
Inacceptable ! C’est toute une nation indignée, Madame la présidente. À tel point que Rajesh Jeetah a été qualifié d’indésirable par les alliés de son Parti. Il n’aura eu d’investiture aux dernières élections législatives mais son bilan aurait été à faire sombrer son Parti avec pour résultat la débâcle de décembre 2014.
Madame la présidente, l’EIILM University n’est qu’un exemple. D’autres institutions ont été autorisées à dispenser des cours et à délivrer des diplômes sans qu’elles aient les accréditations nécessaires des universités internationales auxquelles elles étaient affiliées.
Nous avons aussi la fameuse École de Médecine, D. Y. Patil Medical College, sommée d’arrêter le recrutement de nouveaux étudiants par nous, Madame la présidente. Et nous avons des jeunes aujourd’hui, qui, après trois années d’études de spécialisation en médecine, se retrouvent sur la route. Ils ne trouvent pas de place, ils ne peuvent même pas faire une application au ministère pour se présenter comme spécialiste. Quatre ans d’existence pour un nouveau ministère, censé de faire de Maurice un véritable Knowledge Hub ! Quatre ans de gâchis ! Gaspillage de temps et de ressources motivées par les intérêts premiers d’un minister insoucieux, arrogant et pensant seulement à remplir les caisses du Trust familial !
Je ne souhaiterai, Madame la présidente, m’attarder davantage sur ce personnage.
My mandate is to clean the rot and I will do precisely that.
The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education of UK is making an audit of the tertiary education institutions and will soon submit its final report to the Ministry of Education. And the House would wish to know that my Ministry has already discussed with the Audit Team and given a set of pointers as to the direction we would wish the sector to take.
It is unsound, even improper, for the accreditation agency, TEC, to itself undertake
quality assurance of those institutions to which it has issued operating licences.
Hence, the present regulatory framework for Higher Education in Mauritius needs to be stengthened so as to ascribe an even greater credibility to the higher education and training provided locally. We have to ensure that only reputable institutions are allowed to operate and that their programmes are recognised by all professionals and academyic bodies and are of an international standard.
I want to give the guarantee to the House, henceforth, extreme vigilance will be
exercise to ascertain that fraudulent, spurious and low-quality providers - those infamous ‘degree mills’- are not allowed to set base in Mauritius.
On bona fide Tertiary Educational Institutions whose diplomas and degrees are fully recognised and have international currency and portability, these will be welcome. Quality in Tertiary Education Provision will never be sacrificed on the altar of quantity.
Allow me also to inform the House, Madam Speaker, that we have already engaged in proactive discussions with different Embassies, most notably, the British High Commission as well as the French side, so as to attract some of the best universities to set up campus branches in Mauritius.
The Government also intends to strengthen the Tertiary Education Commission as a regulatory body and review its Act. On the other hand, we need a new legal framework for the sector and my Ministry will come up with a Higher Education Bill.
What I would like to stress is my determination to modernise the Tertiary Education System, to bring greater collaboration and stronger working relationships between public and private universities and have a better coordination of the entire system.
And it becomes all the more important that, as part of the mission of transforming
Mauritius into a Knowledge Hub, our Tertiary Education Institutions be encouraged to improve their research and innovation capacity and output and hence generate new knowledge.
I am accordingly working on a scenario where, with the support of the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, our Embassies and High Commissions could serve as focal bodies to market Mauritian institutions for higher education.
Madam Speaker, one of the mainstays of the Government Programme 2015-2019 is to transform Mauritius into a higher income economy. This entails developing existing sectors and triggering new ones – and, in turn, this further entails placing a premium on furthering skills development.
International evidence has shown that a major determinant of enhanced productivity and competitiveness as well as economic success is the capacity of countries to invest in a skilled and technically qualified human resource base. The private sector expects to see emerging from the education and, especially, the training sector, the kind of persons whose skills are aligned to its needs.
This is where I expect the Human Resource Development Council to conduct regular research on skills shortages. As the House knows the HRDC acts as a bridge between education and training systems and the workplace. The research it undertakes will be used as a means to feed information to the education and training institutions so as to improve the relevance of their outputs.
Madam Speaker, Technical and Vocational Education and Training has to be scaled up and its relevance improved. That also means strengthened partnerships with the private sector. I intend to re-engineer TVET sector as a whole. We all know the stigma traditionally attached to it: it is supposed to be meant for the intellectually weak, the school drop-outs, does not guarantee better job prospects and so on and so forth. We have to move away from this narrow perception.
TVET needs to incorporate and integrate entrepreneurial and generic skills in its
delivery and, especially, it has to move towards establishing pathways for higher and further learning instead of being seen as a dead end, a cul de sac.
In this context, we could perhaps take a leaf off the book of countries like Ghana and Singapore where polytechnics are being given University status. The MITD will accordingly be called upon to establish strategic partnerships with training institutions of world repute.
This will have the twin benefits of enabling MITD to benchmark with the best international practices in the TVET sector and also increase its international courses and qualifications.
Madam Speaker, let us not forget that the SMEs are called upon to be one of the major torchbearers of our economy. People with higher level skills that the TVET sector can provide, will be the ones to cause the wheels to run more smoothly. It is in this context that, as per the Government Programme, the HRDC is being called upon to initiate the ‘skills for growth’ scheme with a view to support small and medium enterprises and promote skills development. This scheme aims at matching SMEs with young graduates to assist them in terms of manpower, knowledge-sharing, creativity and innovation.
Prenons, l‘exemple de l’agro industrie, Madame la présidente. L’université de Maurice produit les meilleurs agronomes de la région mais malheureusement, la plupart se trouvent dans la fonction publique et très peu ont réussi à monter leurs propres entreprises et à utilizer leur connaissance et leur créativité afin d’innover le secteur agricole.
Chaque année, avec un surplus de légumes ou d’autres produits sur le marché, les petits planteurs encourent des pertes considérables. Ce problème perdure depuis des années. Il est temps d’y remédier car l’agriculture aujourd’hui n’est plus ce qu’elle était auparavant. Si le concept de l’agro-industrie a été tout ce temps rendu incompréhensible et difficile aux petits planteurs, ce gouvernement entend faire les choses différemment et Madame la présidente, je peux vous dire qu’avec la vision et les ambitions qu’on prône, bientôt les petits planteurs à travers une formation ciblée pourront intégrer le marché de la transformation et aussi conserver le produit! Le but ultime c’est de s’assurer que les jeunes ayant des connaissances, étant familiers aux nouvelles technologies puissent eux-mêmes se lancer dans l’agriculture et l’agro-industrie.
I must also add that, given the agenda of this Government to develop the Ocean
Economy, the HRDC has been mandated to assess the current and future skills needs and proposed new skills development programmes for this emerging sector.
Madame la présidente, pas plus tard que ce matin, on vient de lancer le site web du
‘Career Development Stairway’, un outil pédagogique permettant d’explorer les divers profils d’emploi et indiquant une échelle de progression de carrière par type de compétence.
Dans ce cas précis, cette l’industrie des TIC/BPO qui était concernée.
Cela démontre clairement la nécessité primordiale d’un Integrated Career Counselling System. Such an integrated system covering career orientation, information and management services will play a pivotal role in informing people about the career choices at various stages of their life.
Obviously, the system will involve both private and public stakeholders to provide that information. There is an existing system but with a view to making it more relevant and integrated, it is being re-assessed and proposals are forthcoming on how to enhance career counselling locally so that individuals could make more informed career choices.
Madam Speaker, one of the key incontrovertible realities that emerged from the last General Elections is the fantastic role played by the youth. It was a treat to see the extent to which the social media went berserk with the number of well thought through and educated comments and views that made the buzz and went viral. Young people expressed their expectations.
In December last, Madam Speaker, we saw democracy at work. Especially, we
witnessed the powerful effect of the vox populi in deciding to give a new meaning and a new orientation to their lives - the lives of all people, irrespective of their race, religion or ethnicity.
It became the people’s wish to have the country fulfil its legitimate and forwardlooking destiny by mandating the Government to achieve meaningful change. In this endeavour, the youth of this country contributed enormously to make this change a reality.
We had seen, Madam Speaker, youth activism at its best. Let me reassure the House and through this House, the youth outside this Government has heard their voice. Can it be otherwise?
Most of them are the ones who are directly affected by the phenomenon of graduate unemployment, underemployment and employability. They are also the ones who find, despite their hard earned Masters and Doctoral and post-doctoral qualifications, that they are unwanted on the labour market because of the skills mismatch issue.
And above all, the young people aptly demonstrated their capacity for participatory politics. They wanted to see “clean” politics at work. They certainly rejected the diet of underhand immoral tactics that they had been fed upon for so long.
It is the youth who wanted to live in a country that successfully nurtures their needs and aspirations, despite the acceptance that there will be peaks and valleys.
Madam Speaker, this Government has got the thumps-up from the youth of this
country and we are duty-bound to listen to their clarion call.
This is the way to give meaning to the political engagement of the youth and give
back to politics its “lettres de noblesse”.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker: I suspend for tea for half an hour.
At 4.49 pm, the sitting was suspended.
On resuming at 5.33 p.m. with Madam Speaker in the Chair.
PRE-PRIMARY & PRIMARY SCHOOLS - FLUORIDE TABLETS – DISTRIBUTION (10/03/15)
(No. B/170) Dr R. Sorefan (Fourth Member for La Caverne & Phoenix) asked the Minister of Health and Quality of Life whether, in regard to the prevention of tooth decay, he will state if consideration will be given for a reintroduction of the distribution of fluoride tablets in the pre-primary and primary schools of mainland Mauritius, of Rodrigues and of Agalega.
Mr Gayan: Madam Speaker, I wish to inform the House that in order to meet the dental needs of the population, my Ministry provides dental care in 58 dental clinics throughout the island including three mobile dental clinics targeting the school population. There are also three dental clinics in Rodrigues. For Agalega, a dental surgeon visits the island three times a year to provide care to local inhabitants.
With regard to the use of fluoride, my Ministry subscribes to WHO guidelines about the benefits of fluoride in the prevention of dental diseases. However, according to WHO Technical Report of 1994, fluoride tablets have limited application as a public health measure and are recommended only for at-risk children.
My Ministry is also envisaging to seek WHO assistance to conduct a National Oral Health Survey soon in Mauritius, with a view to formulating a National Oral Health Plan of action. The plan will define our future preventive strategies in relation to Oral Health. My Ministry will stand guided with the recommendations of WHO with regard to the use of fluoride tablets for the prevention of tooth decay in school children.
Dr. Sorefan: Madam Speaker, may we know from the hon. Minister whether he is aware that we had several researches and documents since 1950, and that fluoride is the best preventive measure? The hon. Minister has mentioned a lot of clinics; those are curative. To reduce the cost in the long run, prevention is better than cure. I take it that this new Government will go mainly on prevention …
Madam Speaker: Hon. Sorefan, what is your question?
Dr. Sorefan: Do not go on WHO requirements, go on Mauritian requirements. From a dental point of view, we find fluoride is the best preventive measure.
Madam Speaker: Hon. Sorefan, are you making a statement or are you asking a question?
Mr Gayan: I understand the hon. Member to be asking about the introduction of fluoride. May I say, Madam Speaker, that fluoride is used mainly in toothpaste, which is widely available in Mauritius. We will certainly look into whatever the World Health Organisation says, but at least the world body about this matter.
Mr Jhugroo: Can I ask the hon. Minister on what frequency do dentists go to Agaléga?
Mr Gayan: Well, I did say, Madam Speaker. Three times a year.
Vote 10-1 Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research was called. (16/04/15)
Mr Bhagwan: Madam Chairperson, can I take page 83? Is it on that vote?
The Chairperson: Yes.
Mr Bhagwan: On page 83 – Grants to the MITD. I do not need to recall the hon. Minister what mess the MITD was …
The Chairperson: Which item?
Mr Bhagwan: Item 26313.027 – Mauritius Institute of Training and Development. Can the hon. Minister, at least, inform the House - before asking us to vote for nearly Rs237 m. - whether the whole mess at the MITD has been cleared, whether a new set-up has been put in place, and whether there would be a full enquiry on all the issues which have been raised in Parliament where there has been a lot of injustice, corruption, pourriture in that institution?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The matter is being taken care of and, in fact, full restructuring of the sector is envisaged. We are trying to get support from certain experts, which will be provided to us from the embassies in Mauritius who are ready to help. With the help of consultants and experts, we are going to restructure the whole sector and, obviously, care is being taken to look after the cases that have been brought to our notice.
The Chairperson: Yes, hon. Quirin!
Mr Quirin: Madam Chairperson, page 80, item 28212.004 - Primary School Supplementary Feeding Project. Can the hon. Minister tell us if this project is actually being implemented? Is it really the project concerning repas chauds to schoolchildren?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The project ‘repas chauds’ is not being envisaged right now. In fact, the school feeding programme refers to the school feeding programme at the ZEP schools and the offer of loaves of bread in all primary schools.
The Chairperson: Yes, hon. Uteem!
Mr Uteem: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. On page 80, item 31, Acquisition of Non-Financial Assets, 31112.402 - Upgrading of Schools, (a) O. Beaugeard GS, I take note that there is absolutely no amount budgeted. May I know from the hon. Minister why is it that no money is being budgeted for the reconstruction of Beaugeard GS?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: As for Beaugeard Government School, the renovation and construction works have been carried out. Works had started in July 2013 and the contract has terminated. Yet, there is an injunction case before the Supreme Court. Since the stay order in November 2013 from the Supreme Court, an amount of Rs15,000 on a daily basis comprising of watchmanship, tools and equipment, performance security insurance, etc., is being spent. The State Law Office has, in November last, informed the Ministry that the contract may be terminated, and that’s why no provision is being made.
Mr Quirin: Madam Chairperson, can we know why the ‘repas chauds’ project is not being considered actually?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: No provision has been made in this budget and it will be done in the coming years. It requires proper thinking before we launch on this project.
Mr Quirin: May I know what is being offered to schoolchildren actually as food?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Apart from the provision of loaves to primary schools, which is funded by PTA, we have the provision of meals to pupils at the ZEP schools - bread, butter, cheese, fruit and water. It is the responsibility, again, of the PTA to appoint the caterers. The sum spent is Rs76 m. for 2014, and the estimates for January to June 2015 is Rs42 m.
Mr Uteem: At page 85, item 26313.088 - Tertiary Education Commission/Tertiary Education Institutions. The grant for TEC is around Rs38 m. for this coming six months. May I know from the hon. Minister whether all enquiries relating to TEC have been completed or not, and what is the outcome therefor?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: There are some enquiries on officers working at TEC which is still on, which have not been completed yet.
The Chairperson: Yes, hon. Ameer Meea!
Mr Ameer Meea: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Page 80, item 31, sub-item 31112.402 - Upgrading of Schools, (f) Primary Schools Renewal Project. May I ask the hon. Minister whether Emmanuel Anquetil School, which is found in Roche Bois, is included in this list of ‘upgrading of schools’, as some of the classes are in a very bad state, especially the toilets for the kids there?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: I will give you the information.
The Chairperson: In the meantime maybe hon. Uteem can have his question.
Mr Uteem: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. On page 84, under Recurrent Expenditure, item 28212.011 - State of Mauritius/Additional Scholarships. There is a pro rata reduction from Rs108 m. to Rs26 m. So, may I know from the hon. Minister whether there is a reduction in the number of additional scholarships that are being given under this scheme?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: No. It’s only the timing when the payment is made.
The number of scholarships is the same.
I have got the information regarding Emmanuel Anquetil Government School. We have a project for construction of new toilet blocks, demolition of the old toilet blocks and construction of eight WC cubicles for boys and eight for girls, two for the staff and one for disabled. The project started in April 2013 and was completed in October 2013. For the classes, no provision has been made in this budget year.
The Chairperson: Yes, hon. Ramful!
Mr Ramful: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. At page 84, under the sub-head 10-107: Human Resource Development, I see that no provision has been made for the Human Resource Development Council. So, do I take it that the recurrent budget for the HRDC will be taken from the levy grant system contributed by the private sector?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: One of the functions of the HRDC is to manage the National Training Fund. Given that no Government grant has been allocated to HRDC, the Council has been financing its overall budget from the National Training Fund since 2009.
Vote 10-1 Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research (Rs7,317,000,000) (January-June 2015) was, on question put, agreed to.
Vote 10-1 Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research was called.
The Chairperson: I will allow only one question because I had already put the question. The question had already been replied. So, I will give you one question.
Mr Uteem: On page 186, item 22120.025 Fees of which Fees to Oriental Language Teachers. Every year, we are asked to vote an item of about Rs25 m. to Rs28 m. May I know from the hon. Minister how many Oriental Teachers are concerned and why are they not on Establishment? Why do we have to keep paying fees every year to them?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The Oriental Teachers that we are talking about are not those who are on Establishment. They are those working in the baitkas and small evening schools. For Hindi, we have 391 teachers; Urdu – 194; Tamil – 67; Telegu – 34; Modern Chinese – 4; Marathi – 22; a total of 712 teachers and these are teachers working in evening schools, not in the primary schools.
SCHOOLS – CLEANERS - SALARY (10/11/15)
Mr A. Ameer Meea (Second Member for Port Louis Maritime & Port Louis East): Madam Speaker, the issue I would raise today concerns the hon. Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research - if I can catch her attention. It relates to the workers employed through sub-contractors or Parent Teachers Association.
A similar P.Q. was put by hon. Baloomoody in September 2015 and it has not yet been replied. I have a similar case in my Constituency whereby people working as cleaners in the schools were being employed - the case I am referring to - by new Cleaning Company Ltd. and their salary was Rs5,000 per month.
Now that there is a new company, Mauriclean Ltd., it is giving these people Rs2,000 per month and they are supposed to start work at 7.30 a.m. for secondary schools and 8.00 a.m. for primary schools. These people are finding it very hard to work for Rs2,000 per month on a daily basis. Therefore, can I ask the hon. Minister to look into the matter and do the necessary so as to ease these people who are head of families?
The Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research (Mrs L. D. Dookun-Luchoomun): Madam Speaker, it seems, from what I have gathered, that these people are working with the company. I’ll look into the matter and see how we can talk to the companies, but it is a contract between the workers and the company themselves.
RELIGIOUS BODIES – SUBSIDIES (17/05/16)
(No. B/417) Dr. R. Sorefan (Fourth Member for La Caverne & Phoenix) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research whether, in regard to the religious bodies which have an institution for teaching cultural and religious matters, she will state the names thereof, indicating the procedure followed for the disbursement of subsidies thereto.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, my Ministry does not provide direct grants or subsidies to religious bodies for cultural and religious activities.
However, fees are paid to persons teaching oriental languages in evening classes run by registered socio-cultural organisations, in a bid to preserve ancestral languages. These classes are held in the evening during weekdays or in some cases, on Saturdays and Sundays. The languages taught are Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Mandarin and Arabic.
Payment is effected based on returns submitted by Managers of evening schools after a proper verification and certification carried out by visiting officers who are appointed by the Zonal Directorate in the respective zones.
Allowances are paid to teachers at approved rates and ranges from Rs1000 to Rs2000 per teacher per month on the basis of qualifications held by them. They should each cover at least 12 hours to be paid such an allowance, otherwise they are paid on a pro rata basis. Some Rs22 m. has already been paid this financial year in the form of allowances mainly to about 1,500 teachers.
Madam Speaker: Hon. Dr. Sorefan!
Dr. Sorefan: Madam Speaker, the hon. Minister has mentioned they are paid per teacher. Is the hon. Minister aware that in some institutions they are paid, like she said, pro rata which I take it the number of hours? Will she inform the House whether for those who teach Hinduism and other cultural activities, all payments go to only one person - I will not mention his name - and this person distributes it to the institutions?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: No. This is not the case, Madam Speaker, and as I have just mentioned, Hinduism does not fall into this category. There are languages taught. I have just mentioned the list of languages taught and the payment is effected to the teachers after verification by the visiting officers of the Ministry in these respective schools. No payment is effected to one person as such.
Madam Speaker: Hon. Shakeel Mohamed!
Mr Mohamed: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Hon. Dr. Sorefan has put a question about certain information that circulate in the public and it is clear that there are some zone d’ombre which we are happy the hon. Minister is clarifying. I looked at the question which is put by hon. Dr. Sorefan and basically what he is asking for are the names of those people who are receiving those funds. This is what exactly he asked. Now, could the hon. Minister consider the possibility of tabling a complete list since that is what the question asked for?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, I do not have the list of the names and individuals teaching, but I do have the list of all the evening schools for the different subjects which I will be ready to table in the National Assembly.
Madam Speaker: Hon. Fowdar!
Mr Fowdar: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Can I ask the hon. Minister -the fact that Government gives subsidies to these religious bodies - whether she has got her say to see the content of the courses that are being run so that it excludes extremism or politically motivated?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, I have just mentioned that my Ministry does not give subsidies to these sociocultural institutions, but pays directly to the teachers running evening classes in languages. Now, the languages taught are according to the courses that are held. They normally go for - I do understand that - Hindi there are a number of examinations that are conducted by the Hindi Pracharini Sabha and other examinations leading to the subjects at SC and HSC levels. So, there is already a curriculum and they normally go by it and there are no risks of extremisms and things of the sort because they are related to the teaching of languages only.
Madam Speaker: Last question, hon. Shakeel Mohamed!
Mr Mohamed: I thank the hon. Minister for her previous answer to my question that she would table the list, but my question is that - I am getting back to that again - would it be impossible for the hon. Minister to table the list of names because since there are names of people receiving money, and it is not Rs1 m. or Rs2 m., it is quite a lot of money? Now, could we consider, therefore, the list, the names, the details, how much was received for each subject?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, as I have just mentioned, I am sure that if I get a specific question on the names of the individuals, I will certainly table it in the Assembly, but what I need to mention is that the payment is done to teachers. In fact, we are talking about Rs22 m., but it goes for over 1,504 teachers in more than 649 evening schools and the number of students benefiting from it ranges to 37,330 students. If there are any problems about someone receiving more fees than others, I will certainly look into the matter and we will come back to the Assembly.
Madam Speaker: Next question, hon. Dr. Sorefan!
Vote 10-1 Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research was called. (17/08/16)
Mr Mahomed: We have been asked to vote a substantive budget for nine-year
schooling. It is at page 200, Main Achievements. It talks about a new curriculum for primary education, but nothing is mentioned for a new curriculum for the nine-year schooling project for which we know that the curriculum is the heart of the education system.
The Chairperson: But this is a policy question! It is not related to cost, I can’t allow it!
Mr Baloomoody: Madam Chairperson, on page 203, item 21110.001, Co-ordinator, Health and Anti-Drug. There will be a Co-ordinator for Health and Anti-Drug. May I know whether this person has been recruited and, if so, how does it function because we are going to have only one for the whole Ministry?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: So, for the Co-ordinator for Health and Anti-Drug, there is no one actually attending this function right now, but two educators will be called upon to perform the duties of Co-ordinator. They have now returned to school. Following the advertisement by the Public Service Commission to fill the post, no candidate was found suitable. Now, we are planning to review the Scheme of duties so as to be able to fill the post.
Mr Uteem: On same page, Counselling Service Manager. May I know from the hon. Minister what function will be performed by this Counselling Service Manager, and whether this position has been filled?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The Counselling Service Manager will be responsible to administer the counselling service, to plan and coordinate the work of the Senior Educational Psychologist, to advise on the formulation of policies and designing of programmes relating to psychological, pedagogical practices and guidance of counselling services and also to work in collaboration with other Ministries, para-statal bodies, Non-Governmental Organisations for the conduct of guidance and counselling, sensitisation sessions for pupils, teachers and families.
Mr Fowdar: Madam Chairperson, I don’t see anything about career guidance on the Key Actions, can I ask the hon. Minister whether it has been removed from the Ministry?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The Career Guidance Unit is at the Ministry, but a major part of the work is also being done at the level of the HRDC. But we are, in fact, reviewing the whole unit after its recent re-introduction at the Ministry of Education.
Mr Baloomoody: On the same page, what about the Senior Physical Education
Organiser? Has this post been filled?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The post of Principal Physical Education Organiser, we
have got one in post. And the Senior Physical Education Organiser’s post is vacant and will be filled after the Public Service Commission advertises for the post.
Mr Baloomoody: Can I refer the hon. Minister to the last item on page 204, Health
and Welfare Division. There is a Director for Health and Wellness and an Assistant Director for Health and Wellness. May I know whether these posts have been filled?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: No, the posts have not been filled. In fact, we have
advertised the posts, but we could not fill the posts. So, what is being planned to do now is that we are planning to advertise the post at the level of the Public Service Commission and fill them. In fact, we are trying now to look for a General Practitioner with at least 10 years’ of proven experience relevant to the common problems afflicting schoolchildren.
Mr Bhagwan: On page 205, World Hindi Secretariat. Can the hon. Minister inform
us about the latest position concerning the building which was supposed to be constructed at Phoenix and how the World Hindi Secretariat is run actually?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: In fact, the land has already been invested in the World
Hindi Secretariat and the funding will be done by the Govt of India. The building will be funded by the Government of India. In fact, we have got a collaboration.
The budgetary provisions for the past year was Rs5,129,000, whereas for the coming year, it is a budget ofRs14 m. A sum of Rs7 m. will be provided by the Government of Mauritius.
Mr Mahomed: Item 22120.008 (a) Study on Green Jobs. We are asked to vote Rs3
m. for this. Is the hon. Minister aware that in 2013 the International Labour Organisation together with the University of Mauritius conducted a green job assessment for Mauritius?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Obviously, Madam Chairperson. The work has not been properly done. That is why we have to propose for new studies to be carried out and this will be mainly in terms of jobs that would be required in these fields and we are having funds from l’Agence Française de Développement for this particular project.
The objective of the project is to carry out an assessment of the demand and offer
regarding green jobs, both in Mauritius and Rodrigues, the needs in terms of adaptation of existing training programmes for a better consideration of environmental stakes in the sectors where this adaptation is most necessary, so as to allow better integration of green skills in the offer of training at the MITD.
The Chairperson: I remind hon. Members to ask brief questions and hon. Ministers
to reply briefly. Hon. Fowdar!
Mr Fowdar: I am coming back to the World Hindi Secretariat again. Why is there an increase of nearly Rs2 m. for the forthcoming year?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: In fact, an increase of Rs2 m. is because now the
Secretariat is going to be operational. We have already recruited the Secretary General and we have also to recruit the Deputy Secretary General.
Dr. Joomaye: Under item 22120, Fees, .008 (b) National Strategy for Development of HR, a sum of Rs7 m. has been voted. Has the consultant been identified, and if yes, who is he?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: In fact, the consultant has not been identified yet. He
will have to come and work on the Vision mission and focus on the future skills,
methodology and the Action Plan of the HRDC.
Mr Ameer Meea: In relation to Studies and Surveys, item 22130 – Nine Year
Continuous Basic Education, we are asked to vote a sum of Rs10 m. But, as we know, Nine Year Schooling is coming into operation next year. So, how come next year, we are going to do the studies and surveys?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, for the Nine Year Schooling, a lot of
work has to be carried out; surveys in terms of requirements, as far as training is concerned.
All this will have to be carried out, and it is being done. Presently, a large number of educators are being trained, and such surveys will be required.
Mr Uteem: Under item 26313.201, Current Grant icw Nine Year Continuous Basic
Education. Will the hon. Minister circulate a list of all the institutions which are going to benefit from this grant and the amount of grant that they will receive?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: I’ll circulate the information.
Mr Baloomoody: Let me come back again to that Nine Year Continuous Basic
Education and link it to the grant that we are going to give to the institution. On what basis are we giving the grant to these institutions when we have not done any survey yet, and now we are going to do a survey?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: No, the grant is not only related to surveys. The grant
will be with respect to - for example, if I take the MIE - content development, to the training, to staffing, to assessment and evaluation. The same for MES; we will need again training of staff, assessment and evaluation. All this will be required and the fund is for that.
The Chairperson: Last question on page 205!
Mr Baloomoody: The Nine Year Schooling will be operational in January, and now the hon. Minister is informing us that we have to do teaching of staff, etc. Has this not been done yet? May I know whether we have spent any money on this?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: It has already been started and it is an ongoing process.
Each year, teachers will change. Teachers move on with their students.
The Chairperson: Page 206. Hon. Osman Mahomed!
Mr Mahomed: Under Item 31112.002, construction of schools and item 311122.999, Acquisition of Other Machinery and Equipment, there is a sum of Rs525 m. plus Rs175 m., making a total of Rs700 m. The Budget Speech states the Nine Year Schooling will cost Rs2 billion. Here, we see a figure that is far below. So, can the hon. Minister shed some light on this?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, the Nine Year Schooling is being
done in phase. For this Budget year, we have Rs580 m. that has been given. I can circulate the breakup. We know that there are about Rs20 m. going for the upgrading of primary schools; Rs18 m. for curriculum and textbooks, content development; Rs250 m. for digital resources; Rs3 m. for continuous professional development of school staff; recruitment of educators, Rs115 m.; enhanced meals for ZEP schools; giving up of impetus to the SEN sector; regional scholarship for Special Education Needs students, TVET reforms, setting upof polytechnics. All this will be included.
Mr Uteem: Page 206, under item 31112.002, Construction and Extension of Schools, is there a list where the new schools will be located?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: I’ll circulate same.
Mr Baloomoody: Under Capital Grants, item 26323.071, Pre-Primary Schools - (a) Early Childhood Care and Education Authority, the project for is for Rs6 m. and we are allocating only Rs500,000 for the coming year. May we know how that Authority is functioning?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The Authority is for the organisation of the pre-primary
sector, and the Early Childhood Care and Education Authority takes care of all the primary units that we have.
Mr Baloomoody: The members of that Authority.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: I will circulate the number of staff involved in the
Mr Mahomed: On that same Authority, Rs500,000 only is being provided for. Is that sufficient to cater for the budget of an Authority?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: For the Early Childhood Care Education Authority, we
have Rs33 m. We also have funds going to the public pre-primary schools, and we have the private pre-primary schools. So, the amount going to the public pre-primary schools would be Rs157 m. and for the private pre-primary, Rs58 m.
Mr Baloomoody: We are talking about the budget. I don’t know where the hon.
Minister gets the sum of Rs157 m. It is not in the budget. On the public pre-primary schools, the project value is Rs34,790,000, and for the coming year we are projecting Rs8 m. So, may we know exactly? Can we have a list of the public schools which would benefit from that expenditure?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The information will be circulated.
The Chairperson: Pages 207 and 208! Page 209! Hon. Ameer Meea!
Mr Ameer Meea: On page 209, item .005 - Extra Assistance, there has been a huge
increase from Rs18 m. to Rs26 m. may we have the details of the breakdown of this amount?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The payment under extra assistance goes for supply
teachers, support teachers, project managers ZEP, cluster coordinators and parent mediator.
Mr Baloomoody: On item 22120.007 - Fees for Training. It has come up from
Rs156,000 to Rs3 m. may we know for what purpose?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Under item Fees for Training, funds will be used for the
payment of fees to resource persons in respect of the training of Headmasters, Deputy Headmasters, Mentors, Assistant School Superintendents and School Clerks. The training courses will aim at improving leadership, managerial and administrative skills.
Mr Uteem: Under item 22120.025 - Fees to Oriental Language Teachers, there is
Rs28 m. earmarked and, at the same time, when you look at the establishment there is no increase in the number of teachers, senior teachers of Oriental Language. So, may I know from the hon. Minister how many people benefit from this fee to Oriental language teachers and why are they not on the establishment?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: They are not teachers on the establishment for Oriental
Languages. These are teachers who are operating in NGOs and sociocultural set ups. We have 21,239 pupils for Hindi, 11,498 students for Urdu, 2,421 for Tamil, 1,068 for Telugu, 412 for Modern Chinese, 967 for Marathi and if I talk now about the teachers, for Hindi you have 789, Urdu and Arabic 450, Tamil 108, Telugu 45, Modern Chinese 17, Marathi 40, a total of 1,449 teachers.
Mr Mahomed: On page 209, item 26210.183 - Contribution to International
Organisations. Do we not contribute to the UNESCO because UNESCO has been
complaining lately that they have got a lot of financial problems?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: With regard to the current grant to international
organisations, we contribute to the Southern and Eastern African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality and we have contributions made to the CONFEMEN, the UNESCO and the ADEA.
Mr Baloomoody: Item 22900.935 - Summer/Winter School Programme. Do we still have this programme and, if so, can the hon. Minister give a list of primary schools where this programme is being run?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: I will circulate the list.
Mr Quirin: At page 209, under items 22070 and 22090 - Cleaning Services and
Security respectively. May we know if the contracts have already been awarded and, if yes, to whom?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The contracts for cleaning services have been awarded to Mauriclean Ltd and New Cleaning Services. For Security, I find that Defence Hitech Security Services Ltd have got the contract. I will circulate the list of schools involved.
The Chairperson: Page 210!
Mr Bhagwan: At page 219, under item 31122.802 - Acquisition of Equipment for
Sankoré Project. I have two questions. Can the hon. Minister inform the House how many schools are actively engaged in the Sankoré Project and give us some details?
Under item 31122.823 - Acquisition of Equipment for Early Digital Learning
Programme. May we have some details about the amount which has been earmarked and the number of equipment which is supposed to be purchased and which schools will be involved in the programme?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: All schools are involved in the Sankoré Programme. I
will circulate information regarding the equipment purchased.
Mr Fowdar: At page 210, under item 28211.040 Parent Teachers’ Association (PTA) (Parent Aided Primary Schools Association. May we know from the hon. Minister whether these grants are meant to cover expenses towards activities organised by the PTA or is it to cover expenses of the schools?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: In fact, the PTA receives money for activities as well as
for payment in certain cases for staff involved in the cleaning of the premises.
Mr Bhagwan: Since yesterday we have been asking questions. Madam Chairperson, we have been Ministers also. Every time Ministers say that replies will be circulated. Can I appeal to the Chair, in the past years we have seen that replies are not circulated. It will be in Hansard and we will be following up to see that these replies be circulated at appropriate time.
The Chairperson: Hon. Member, I take the point which has been raised. I would
request hon. Ministers to give replies as far as possible, but where the reply is very long and they think they would take time to give this reply then they can circulate the reply. For lists which are requested, they can circulate; but, where facts and arguments are concerned, then they will have to give the reply.
Mr Baloomoody: Can I refer the hon. Minister to the grants to the Roman Catholic
Education Authority? Can we know from the hon. Minister whether the RCEA schools will be converted into Academy Colleges when it comes to the Nine-Year Schooling?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, this is a question regarding a policy of the RCEA.
Mr Baloomoody: If we are giving grant, it is specific and it is mentioned for the
Nine-Year Schooling, so may we know whether they will be part of the Nine- Year Schooling?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, the Academy is part of the
secondary education. When we talk about RCEA, we are talking about Primary sub sector.
Mr Uteem: I think what my hon. friend is asking is whether they are part of the NineYear Schooling, or not.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The Bureau d’Education Catholique has expressed its
wish to join and to be part of the Reform.
Mr Uteem: At page 210, under item Acquisition of Non-Financial Assets, there is
construction and upgrading of schools. May I know from the hon. Minister the amount budgeted for the construction or upgrading of schools for the integration of children with disabilities?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, the funds are not attributed thus,
but obviously, it goes into the whole amount that is required for upgrading of schools. We have not made a special provision here, however, we do have funds for the setting up of resource centres for children with special education needs.
Mr Ameer Meea: Madam Chairperson, under item 31122.823 in relation to the
Acquisition of Equipment for Early Digital Learning Programme, the hon. Minister stated that she would circulate the list of equipment. Can I ask her all about this Early Digital Learning Programme?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: In fact, Madam Chairperson, we are providing digital
tablets to students in grades I and II as from next year. The equipment will include the racks for the tablets, the electrical units that have to be set up, the servers, etc.
Mr Ramano: Under item 28212 Transfers to Households, there has been a
supplementary increase from Rs73 m. to Rs110 m. Can we know from the hon. Minister what the difference stands for?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: This is, in fact, because of the increase in the funds
available for the School Feeding Programme in the ZEP schools.
Mr Mahomed: Under the same vote 31122.823 Acquisition of Equipment for Early Digital Learning Programme, in the House we heard before that at secondary school level, it did not quite work for numerous reasons. Have we catered for these reasons because we are being asked to vote Rs500 m. for this project?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, we are using the tablets at the level of the primary school, placing within the tablets all the educational resource materials required so that children do not have to carry their heavy bags to school.
These will be kept at school and the students will have to learn to use the tablet as a tool for their learning. Furthermore, we are coming up with connectivity in
another vote at the level of the Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation for the connectivity at the level of the schools.
Mr Baloomoody: Coming back to the tablets, we know there was in the past a project for the tablets which has been a total failure and a lot of money has been wasted. Have we identified a specific supplier who can guarantee not only the supply, but also the servicing of these tablets?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: We do agree that the former project was not a very good one, but now we are proceeding very cautiously and we will be working together with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to determine how the supply will be made.
The Chairperson: Last question!
Mr Uteem: Is there any amount earmarked in that programme for installation of WIFI in the schools for these digital tablets?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: This is not in my vote. This is in the vote of the Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation.
Mr Quirin: Under item 31112.402 Upgrading of Schools, can the hon. Minister table a list of all the schools which are going to be upgraded and, of course, if they have already been identified?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Yes, Madam Chairperson, I will circulate it.
Mr Ameer Meea: In relation to the tablets, that is, item 31122.823 Acquisition of
Equipment for Early Digital Learning Programme, the hon. Minister stated earlier that there was a programme. But the programme that we had earlier cost, I think, almost a billion rupees. What will happen to this project in relation to the new project that is being launched now? Will it be scrapped or will it be incorporated in this project?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: This is a policy decision, Madam Chairperson.
The Chairperson: I suspend the sitting for one hour.
At 12.56 the sitting was suspended.
On resuming at 2.04 p.m. with the Deputy Speaker in Chair.
The Deputy Speaker: Page 211. Hon. Uteem!
Mr Uteem: In respect of item 21110 - Rectors. There is an increase from 42 to 62
rectors. So, do I take it that they are going to be 20 more schools or where will the additional Rectors house?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: There are a number of acting Rectors who will need to be nominated.
Mr Uteem: My question is easy. We are increasing the number from 42 to 62. So, do we have 62 colleges for these Rectors? Does it take into consideration new schools that are being constructed?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: There are vacancies. There are about 25 vacancies and
we are filling the vacancies.
Mr Mahomed: With respect to General Workers, we are passing from 93 to 242.
May we know when will they be in office because many schools are complaining that there is a lack of attendants and General Workers?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The recruitment is being done and the vacancies are
Mr Baloomoody: Home Economics Attendant - we see no provision for home
economics attendant. Are we abolishing this post?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The new post has been created in PRB report 2016. A
new draft scheme of service has been referred to the Ministry of Civil Service and
Administrative Reforms for its prescription. As soon as the scheme of service is prescribed, action will be taken for the funding and filling of the appropriate post.
Mr Ameer Meea: Mr Chairperson, on page 213, item 21110.005 Extra Assistance.
There is an amount of Rs55 m. Can the hon. Minister give the details and breakdown and also circulate it?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The funds will be used for the enlistment of supply
teachers in State Secondary schools in all subject areas including physical education.
Mr Mahomed: Item 21210 - Social Contributions, for which we are being asked to
vote Rs67.5 m. May I know what is it about, please?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The Social Contributions are contributions to the
National Saving Funds in respect to all officers paid under this Sub-Head.
Mr Bhagwan: I have two questions. Under item 27210.013 - S.C. and H.S.C.
Examination Fees. Can we have an idea of the number of beneficiaries which are being targeted? I’ll ask another one. Under item 26313.133 - PSSA - Performance Grant to Private Secondary Schools, we are being asked to vote Rs35 m. What is this Performance Grant?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: For the first one, we are referring to all SC and HSC
students sitting for the examination for the first time. Now, for the Performance Grant to Private Secondary Schools, there is a component of the Comprehensive Grant Formula which is linked to the performance of the schools. So, the performance grant is used for the payment to the Private Aided Secondary Schools in line with the new Comprehensive Grant formula.
It has an element of block and performance grant. The Performance Grant is paid on the basis of achievement of performance indicators which include among others: academic performance, participation in sports and extracurricular activities.
Mr Baloomoody: Item 22120 Fees. It was 589,000. Now, it is Rs2.5 m. May we
know why there is such a tremendous increase?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The funds will be used to pay resource persons for the
training of rectors, deputy rectors, senior educators, school superintendents, school clerks, Lab. Attendants and workshop attendants as well as library staff.
Mr Uteem: In relation to item 27210.013 Social Assistance Benefits - S.C. and
H.S.C. Examination Fees, the amount budgeted for next year is the same as for last year which is Rs310 m. I thought that the criteria are being revised so, why is the amount the same?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The criteria are not being revised. The fund that is made available is according to the number of students sitting for exams every year.
Now, for people going for a re-sit, they are normally paid under another vote at the level of the Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Reform Institutions, not at the level of the Ministry of education.
Mr Baloomoody: We find that there has been a tremendous increase in rent as well, from Rs491,000 to Rs2 m. Item 22030- Rent, on page 213.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: For this particular item, we are referring to rental of
building which turns to around Rs1.5 m. and rental facilities for events in public secondary schools in terms of rental of podiums, salles vertes, sound systems amounting to about Rs450,000.
Mr Mahomed: There is a list of schools where there will be extensive construction
and extension. I believe there will be an extensive construction and extension for a series of schools. Is there a project implementation unit or department at the Ministry of Education and how many staff does it comprise of.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: In fact, we do have a unit and we do have support from
the MPI as well. The construction work is done normally through the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, but we do have a unit comprised of officers of my Ministry for the supervision.
Mr Uteem: On page 214, in respect of Acquisition of Non-Financial Assets, item
31112.402 – Upgrading of Schools (b) R. Seeneevassen SSS, there is Rs44 m. project, but last year, less than Rs1 m. was spent. So, may I know the reason for the under spending and whether the contract has been awarded for the extension of the school?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: We have for R. Seeneevassen Rs17 m. made available
and it is for the rehabilitation of the veranda, repairs to cracks and concrete, waterproofing work, demolition of two classroom blocks comprising canteen, art room, toilets, classrooms and construction of two new blocks on ground plus three.
Mr Uteem: Has the contract already been awarded? Because since last year, it was
supposed to be.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Soil test and investigation are completed. Now, drawings are under preparation.
Mr Baloomoody: On item 26323.073 Capital Expenditure – Grants, a grant of
Rs11,750,000 has been earmarked for this year and Rs25,700,000 for next year to the PSSA.
May we know for what purpose?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: For the PSSA, we have rehabilitation of the PSSA
building, computerisation and hardware projects.
The Chairperson: Page 216, any questions? Hon. Uteem!
Mr Uteem: Item 28211.023 – Special Education Needs Schools, Rs90 m. is
budgeted. May I know from the hon. Minister which school and Day Care Centres will be obtaining the grant-in-aid?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: There are at present 42 NGOs running 54 registered SEN schools which are paid this grant-in-aid. The grant-in-aid caters for salaries of managers, teachers, assistant teachers, carers and handy workers as well as specialised support services such as psychologists, occupational therapists, speech therapists etc. The amount disbursed to NGOs is Rs61,263,000.
The Chairperson: If it’s long, hon. Minister, you may circulate it.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Okay, I will circulate it. The number of NGOs is 42.
Mr Mohamed: On item 22120, we are being asked a sum of Rs200,000 for Fees,
when it was Rs46,000 in the previous year. May we know why, although not a big amount, such a huge increase, comparatively?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The fees are for the training. We are making provision
for the training of the Special Education Needs personnel.
Mr Baloomoody: Item 31122.821 – Acquisition of Braille PC for Visually Impaired Children. May we know how many children have benefitted from the provision this year and how many are we projecting for next year?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: In fact, it depends on the number of students that we have having these impairments. I’ll give you the number. I have the impression that it is around 54 students this year. 58 braille PCs have been provided for students this year and the braille PCs contained also screen readers and screen magnifier software.
Dr. Joomaye: Under the same item, may we know through which institution these
brail equipment are being distributed.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: To Loïs Lagesse Trust Fund and to Lizie Dan La Main.
The Chairperson: Next page, 217. Hon. Mahomed!
Mr Mahomed: On item 28212.020 – Student Scholarship Schemes for Vulnerable
Households, the Budget is being increased from Rs29 m. to Rs55 m. Are we increasing the number of students or the amount of contribution or both?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The object of the scheme was to award a fully funded
scholarship of a maximum of Rs150,000 per academic year covering tuition fees,
examination fees, books and a stipend of Rs3,000 per month for Mauritian students and Rs8,000 for Rodriguan students. The amount spent up to June 2016 was Rs7,780,000 for the ex-HRKAD Fund and the amount spent for the SRM scholarship is around Rs13 m. So, we have extension of the scholarship of the ex-Human Resource Knowledge and Arts Development Fund and payments are still being effected. Scholarship to children from vulnerable families, the amount has been increased …
The Chairperson: Hon. Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun, the question was: has there been
an increase in the number of students?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: In fact, we are now providing scholarships for students
with Special Education Needs as well.
Mr Uteem: In respect to Scholarship Scheme to students with disabilities, may I
know from the hon. Minister what is the criteria and whether the Scholarship Scheme refers to only tertiary education or other education?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: It will be for the tertiary or even for MITD and
polytechnics as well. The criteria has to be worked out.
Dr. Sorefan: On the same item as my friend, hon. Uteem, how many students are we planning to give scholarships?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: For the Special Education Needs, we have made
provision for five scholarships.
Mr Baloomoody: On the last item on that page, Capital Expenditure, Grants to the
Mauritius Institute of Education, there is an increase of Rs7 m. May we know for what purpose?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: In the light of the Nine-Year Continuous Basic
Education, training of staff, preparation of content material, curriculum development, etc.
Mr Uteem: Under Item 28211 Transfer to non-profit institution, Rs1 m. is earmarked for Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Foundation. May I know for what purpose?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: This was the Foundation that was put up earlier normally to provide support to children who have a need in some forms of loan, etc. but, now with the number of different schemes that are available, very little requests are made from that particular fund.
Mr Baloomoody: We have under item 26 – Grants, which is the Extra-Budgetary
Units, Mauritius Institution of Education, Rs240,000,000. There is an increase of Rs8 m.
Then we have the Extra-Budgetary Units in Capital Expenditure Rs17 m. So, may we have some details?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Apart from the operational cost, in the case of MIE, we
are talking about the Capital Budget, we also have the extension of the MIE building and the project value is Rs48 m.
Mr Ameer Meea: On 218, the last item 22120 – Fees, last year it was Rs17,000 and this year it is Rs6.5 m. May we know the reason for such an increase and also the details of this amount?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The amount refers to the fees to Chairperson and
Members of Boards and Committees and now it is absorbed under the subhead of vote 101.
The fees to consultants which support for system wide educational reform and development and regulatory framework for high education turns around Rs6,000,500 and the remaining amount, as I mentioned earlier, has been absorbed under the vote subhead 10101.
Mr Jhuboo: At the paragraph Capital Expenditure item 26323.077 concerning the
construction of a planetarium at Réduit for an amount of Rs153 m. Could the hon. Minister shed some light on that provision, please?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: We will have to acquire exhibits and equipment for a
value of about Rs2,800,000. The construction of the planetarium at Réduit for Rs10 m. and the total amounting to Rs12.8 m.
Mr Bhagwan: On page 219, the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) Item
26323.088 recruitment of foreign lecturers. Can we know how many lecturers we are planning to recruit and whether some have been recruited and also, for Africa scholarships, how many scholarships are we planning to give to our African brothers?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: As far as the recruitment of lecturers is concerned, it is
normally done through the universities at times, as and when required, foreign lecturers are made to come and to run courses and this is on an ad-hoc basis, as and when required. The target groups for this service is the UoM, UTM, l’Université des Mascareignes, Open University, MGI and the Fashion and Design Institute.
Mr Mahomed: If I heard the hon. Minister correctly for the planetarium we are going to purchase about 2 million plus rupees of equipment, is that correct? And then, the building project is costing Rs153 m. so, can we not use that Rs2.7 m. of equipment and place it somewhere else like, for example, the Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre?
The Chairperson: This is a policy decision.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The Planetarium is part of the Rajiv Gandhi Science
Centre. Secondly, as far as the building is concerned, it is being funded by the Indian Government.
Dr. Sorefan: Item 26313.088 - Open University of Mauritius, may we know from the hon. Minister why the budget has gone down by Rs11 m.? Is this programme not functioning?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The Open University of Mauritius is a self-financing
institution which gets money from its students as course fee as well.
Mr Uteem: In respect to the grant to the Tertiary Education Commission, we are
asked to vote for an increased budget of Rs120 m. May I know from the hon. Minister whether she has carried out any investigation to find out whether any sanction has been taken against members of the TEC or are we still voting the budget for the same people who, in the past, did not perform?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr Chairperson, in fact, the previous people have left and there are new officers who have replaced those who have left.
Mr Ameer Meea: In relation to expenses to Polytechnics item code 22900.963, it
seems to be a new item because last year nothing was budgeted, but this year it is Rs25 m. and then it went on to Rs35 m. and Rs45 m. for the coming years. May we have some details on this figure?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Polytechnics are going to start running next year and,
therefore, the operational costs are included as well. In fact, all three polytechnics will start operating: one in Pamplemousses, one in Montagne Blanche, one in Réduit and the financial details for the expenditure…
The Chairperson: Can the hon. Minister circulate it?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: I will circulate it.
Mr Baloomoody: Coming back again to the Open University of Mauritius, for the
capital expenditure we are allocating Rs5 m. each year, may we know for what purpose?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: For the Open University of Mauritius provision will be
used for the acquisition of equipment and furniture.
The Chairperson: Next page 220, hon. Uteem!
Mr Uteem: May I know from the hon. Minister for the Knowledge Parks Limited
there is a loan of Rs72 m. and there is nothing for the coming years, so can I know what was that?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The Knowledge Parks Co Ltd was meant for the
launching of the building, the construction of the three polytechnics. Now that the
construction has been completed, we will no longer need the Knowledge Parks of Mauritius.
Vote 10-1 Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and
Scientific Research (Rs16,109,000,000) was, on question put, agreed to.
MES – DIRECTOR – APPOINTMENT (29/11/16)
(No. B/1044) Mr R. Bhagwan (First Member for Beau Bassin & Petite Rivière) asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research whether, in regard to the Director of the Mauritius Examination Syndicate, she will –N , information as to the –
(i) name of the incumbent thereof, and
(ii) date and terms and conditions of appointment thereof, and
(b) state if her Ministry is in presence of representations to the effect that she has
participated in a political activity held at Grand Bois and, if so, the actions
taken in relation thereto, if any and, if not, why not.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, in reply to part (a) (i) of the question, I would like to inform the House that Mrs Brenda Sheila Thanacoody-Soborun has been appointed as Director of the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate on 31 March 2015, in accordance with Section 8 of the MES Act for a period of two years.
The salary drawn is Rs110,000 per month and the other terms and conditions attached to the post are as per the recommendations of the PRB Report.
Madam Speaker, concerning part (b) of the question, there has been no representation made to my Ministry. However, it was reported in the press that
Mrs Soborun has participated in such an event at Grand Bois.
My Ministry has taken up the matter with the Director of the MES and has called for explanations from her. She has formally been instructed not to engage in such activities in the future and I am told that she has tendered her unreserved apologies.
Mr Bhagwan: Can the hon. Minister inform the House, the country and also all the parents of Mauritius, how can somebody who is Director of an institution, responsible for the organisation of examinations in Mauritius, qui doit être au-dessus de tout soupçon, can be sitting in a political gathering of the MSM and ‘tappe la main’ with the orange uniform?
Does the hon. Minister find this normal? Only a letter of excuse, this is normal! I have not finished, Madam Speaker, please.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The question…
Mr Bhagwan: I have not finished! Can the hon. Minister inform the House, apart
from this letter of excuse, whether she intends to recommend to the Prime Minister de faire cette dame démissionner de la MES?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, the Director has tendered her apologies and has taken undertaking that she will not engage in such activities and that such events would not recur.
Madam Speaker: Hon. Baloomoody!
Mr Baloomoody: Madam Speaker, what has happened at Grand Bois is very serious.
We are talking about a very, very important institution: the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate. They are the ones who set the papers, mark the papers, and decide the future of our children by the ranking of the results. So, what has happened, this institution should be above politics…
Madam Speaker: Yes, ask your question!
Mr Baloomoody: That lady has been involved in politics, and today people have…
Madam Speaker: Yes, ask your question, hon. Baloomoody!
Mr Baloomoody:… no confidence in that MES…
Madam Speaker: Hon. Baloomoody, ask your question! Don’t make a statement!
Mr Baloomoody: Can I ask the hon. Minister whether she will do the needful to have that woman replaced immediately, before the results of the next exams, before the starting of the nine-year schooling where this institution will decide to which school our children will go?
Madam Speaker: Order!
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, the needful has been done by the
Ministry and we are satisfied with the explanations tendered.
Madam Speaker: Hon. Bhagwan!
Order, I have said! Hon. Baloomoody!
Hon. Baloomoody, please!
I am addressing myself to you, hon. Baloomoody! Please! Yes, hon. Bhagwan!
Mr Bhagwan: Can the hon. Minister inform the House whether the only reason why this lady is still at the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate is because she was presented to be a candidate of the MSM, presented by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, and that this is her only certificate?
Madam Speaker: Hon. Baloomoody, please!
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, I would ask the hon. Member to make sure that he does not start talking about qualifications of people because Madam Soborun has got her qualifications. I do agree that there has been a departure from what we consider to be ethical behaviour…
Madam Speaker: Hon. Baloomoody!
Hon. Baloomoody, I am calling you to order!
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, I would like to remind the hon. Member that he has had a candidate standing in his party along with him in his alliance last time who had been the Director of the MES, who had stood for elections, who had failed from getting elected and who went back to sit as the Director of the MES!
Madam Speaker: Order, please!
Order, I said!
Order, I said!
If there is no order, I will suspend the session!
I suspend the session then!
At 3.34 p.m., the sitting was suspended.
On resuming at 3.43 p.m. with Madam Speaker in the Chair.
Madam Speaker: Next question, hon. Ameer Meea!
Vote 9-1 Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research (Rs16,600,000,000) was called. (21/06/17)
The Chairperson: Pages 165, 166, 167. Hon. Henry!
Mr Henry: Merci, Madame la présidente, sous l’item 21110.005-Extra Assistance,
est-ce qu’on peut avoir les détails, les noms et la somme allouée à ces personnes s’il vous plaît?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: It refers to the payment made to the advisers, extra
assistance. We have six advisers at the level of the Ministry and this refers to the payment to the advisers.
Okay, so we have six advisers: Mr Dansinghani, Mr Munbodh, Mr Carlo de Souza and followed by the attachés de presse Mr Seearee, Mrs Dookhee and Mr Tulsing.
The sum total comes to about Rs7.7 m. and if the hon. Member wants, I can circulate the list.
The Chairperson: Hon. Quirin!
Mr Quirin: Same question.
The Chairperson: Page 168, hon. Abbas Mamode.
Mr Abbas Mamode: Under item 22120.008 – Fees to Consultant (a) Study on Green Jobs, can the Minister elaborate? Who is the consultant, and how have the selections been made?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Which item number please?
Mr Abbas Mamode: Item 22120.008 - Fees to Consultant
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The consultancy is for the study on green jobs; so in line with Government initiatives, the MITD has submitted a project on consultancy for greening of the TVET sector. The project will be funded by Agence Française de Développement to a tune of Rs3 m. for the payment of consultancy fees.
The Chairperson: Hon. Mrs Perraud!
Mrs Perraud: Page 168, item 28211-Transfers to Non-Profit Institutions, .042
Transfer Youth Club, can we have a list of the institutions and the youth club please?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Sorry, can I have the item number again please.
Mrs Perraud: Page 168 item 28211 - Transfers to Non-Profit Institutions.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: All right! It refers to the youth clubs. A maximum of
Rs3000 are allocated to each registered UNESCO club in State schools, private schools and out-of-schools group. The provision of an amount of Rs210,000 has been provided for the payment of grants to these clubs last year and we are expecting about the same for this year.
We have 47 registered clubs.
School clubs and out-of-school UNESCO clubs
The Chairperson: Hon. Uteem!
Mr Uteem: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Item 22130 - Studies and Surveys with respect to the Nine Year Continuous Basic Education, may I know from the hon. Minister now that we are going ahead with the Nine Year Schooling why are we still budgeting so much money for studies and surveys?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: In fact, Madam Chairperson, the Nine Year Schooling is being implemented, there are various phases and consultancy will be required.
Now, the consultancy is being provided in priority areas for example for the design, evaluation, assessment, school governance and accountability and all this is being provided through the World Bank.
The Chairperson: Hon. Osman Mahomed!
Mr Osman Mahomed: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. With respect to 22120.008
(a) Study on Green Jobs, there was a previous one conducted by the International Labour Organisation which was even presented in Geneva, I was there. So, I just want to have a clarification from the hon. Minister on what is the difference between the two. I see there is another one, study on green jobs being conducted for the sum of Rs3 m.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: In fact, I have just mentioned that this particular study is being supported by L'Agence Française de Développement. On the green job, I note that it was initially expected to cost Rs3 m. but now the project has been estimated at Rs1.9 m. The objective of the project is to identify training needs for green skills and integrating them in the existing TVET programme, also to identify the green jobs in future. The project will enable MITD to review its training programmes by integrating green skills in existing courses. As the hon. Member must have noted, we are placing a lot of emphasis on the TVET sector and that is why we are going towards this particular consultancy.
The Chairperson: Hon. Ameer Meea!
Mr Ameer Meea: On page 168, item 22030 – Rent, there has been an increase of
per cent from Rs20 m. to Rs24 m. May I have a breakdown of this figure and also details of which is being rented and where et cetera?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, we are referring here to rental of
buildings and the list that we have here is the MITD House itself for which we pay a rental value of Rs20 m. per year. Then we have the NPF Building at Rose Hill for Quality Assurance Directorate and Statistics Units, again for an amount of Rs3.186 m.
The Chairperson: Hon. Barbier!
Mr Barbier: Item 22120.008 - (c) Energy Audit, it is for the first time that we are
asked to vote such a vote. Can we have some details on what this energy audit is all about?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The Energy Audit which is costing around Rs2 m.
follows the Energy Efficiency Regulation 2017. It provides for mandatory energy audits of all Government buildings. An energy audit is a systematic analysis of energy use and energy consumption to identify, quantify and report on the opportunities for improved energy performance.
The Chairperson: Page 169, hon. Ms Sewocksingh!
Ms Sewocksingh: Page 169, Item 26313.071 - (c) Private Pre-Primary Schools can
the hon. Minister tell us why there is a decrease for the Estimates 2017/18 as it was earmarked for 2016 Rs58,500,000 and then it decreases to Rs55,500,000 for 2017?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: The decrease is explained by the demographic trend in
birth rate, so fewer number of students are getting into schools.
The Chairperson: Hon. Mrs Selvon!
Mrs Selvon: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Item 31112.002 - Non-Residential
Buildings, Construction and Extension of Schools, if the hon. Minister could, please, give some details in which constituencies those schools are going to be constructed?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: In fact, Madam Chairperson, we are talking here about
construction and extension of schools. We have a list here –
• Dr. James Burty David State Secondary School;
• Rabindranath Tagore Secondary School;
• Belle Rose State Secondary School;
• Seewa Bappoo State Secondary School;
• Nouvelle France Mahatma Gandhi Secondary School ;
• Camp de Masque State Secondary School, and
• Ebène State Secondary School
The Chairperson: Hon. Rughoobur!
Mr Rughoobur: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Item 26323.071 under Capital
Expenditure, there is a one-off grant to private pre-primary schools, may I know from the hon. Minister what is the criteria of eligibility for this grant?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: We have selected pre-primary schools offering courses at less than Rs800 per month and in deprived areas.
The Chairperson: Hon. Uteem!
Mr Uteem: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Under Grants, item 26313.071 (c)
Private Pre-Primary Schools, every year we vote to give grants to pre-primary schools. May I know from the hon. Minister what monitoring is done at the level of the Ministry to ensure that the funds are properly used by these pre-primary schools?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: In fact, the amounts allotted to these schools are in forms of subsidies provided to the schools in terms of the number of students that they take. It is subsidy to parents.
The Chairperson: We pass on to page 170, hon. Mrs Perraud!
Mrs Perraud: Page 170, item 21110, at the bottom of the page - Educator (Holistic
Development), may I know from the hon. Minister what is happening for those teachers?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, the Budget has made provision for the recruitment of more holistic officers this year and the number has increased. If the hon. Member is talking about the YEP trainees, those who are willing have been provided the possibility of being on for another year.
The Chairperson: Hon. Ramano!
Mr Ramano: Toujours à la page 170, je voudrai savoir de l’honorable Ministre le cas en ce qui concerne les lady cleaners, les femmes cleaners, qui sont attachées aux différentes écoles. Est-ce que je peux savoir le nombre de dames qui sont attachées à ce poste et quel est le salaire qui a été dédié, est-ce qu’il y a cette possibilité de revoir leur conditions de travail ?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, these cleaners are, in fact, not
officers of the Ministry, they are taken on an ad hoc basis by the PTA. The former Minister of Finance had provided funds for all the cleaners to be taken on board but they are not officers of the Ministry, they are being paid an increased allowance of around Rs8,500.
The Chairperson: Hon. Rutnah!
Mr Rutnah: Madam Chairperson, in relation to the last item of page 170, it appears
that there will be 191 additional Support Teachers for this current financial year.
Can I ask the hon. Minister if provision has already been made to recruit them? And, if so, when are they likely to be recruited?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, provision has been made in this
Budget. The PSC will be informed accordingly and, as soon as possible, the recruitment will be done.
The Chairperson: Hon. Uteem! Hon. Mrs Perraud! Page 171! No? Hon. Osman
Mr Osman Mahomed: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. For the recruitment of
General Worker, I see that there will be a huge recruitment process, from 80 to 393. Can I ask the hon. Minister whether this is going to be through the PSC or delegated powers through her Ministry, or through the PTA? And if it is through delegated powers, what mechanism has she established for the recruitment to be fair and equitable across the island?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, the list of candidates will be asked from the Ministry of Labour from across the island and will be taken by delegated powers through interview.
The Chairperson: Hon. Barbier! Hon. Uteem! Page 172!
Mr Uteem: Thank you, Madam Chairperson! Under item 21110.005 - Extra
Assistance where there is a budgeted amount of around Rs35 m. next year. Can the hon. Minister inform us to whom are the fees to be paid?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, the item is meant for payment of
supply teachers oriental language, parent mediators, support teachers on contract, and project managers for the Zone d’Education Prioritaire (ZEP). The budget increase is meant for the enlistment of additional supply teachers.
The Chairperson: Hon. Lepoigneur!
Mr Lepoigneur: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Under item 22070 -Cleaning
Services, there is a big variance which comes down every year. Does it mean that we are cleaning less?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: For the Cleaning Services, Madam Chairperson, in fact,
there is a decrease of Rs20m in the provision and this is explained by the decision to recruit cleaners of school premises in the following months.
The Chairperson: Hon. Ramano! Hon. Osman Mahomed! Page 172!
Mr Osman Mahomed: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. On item 22060.001 -
Buildings of which Nine-Year Continuous Basic Education where we are being asked to vote quite a huge amount of money. Can the hon. Minister provide us with some clarification on this project, please?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, we are talking about maintenance
work in primary Schools; funds have been provided for six schools, namely Serge Coutet Government School, Mohanlal Mohit Government School, Curepipe Road Government School, Bambous Geoffroy Government School, Pierre Desvaux de Marigny Government School and Mesnil Government School. There are already 27 schools where works are already on. I can circulate the list of these schools.
The Chairperson: Hon. Ameer Meea!
Mr Ameer Meea: Under item 22030 – Rent where there is an amount of Rs19 m.
which is budgeted. May we have the details of this amount, please?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: We have got rental buildings for the Zonal Directorates,
the store section and one Government School, and also for accommodation of Chinese volunteers who come from China for teaching of Mandarin. Then we have rental for parking slots in the Zone 1 Directorate in Port Louis and Rose Hill for the Quality Assurance and Statistics Units. We have rental facilities for events.
We have in Zone 1 the Finance Section of the Ministry which is in the Mutual Aid Building. We have Beaujard Government School which is in an Arya Ravived Building, Stores’ Section in the Sugar Industry Labour Welfare Fund Building; for Zone 2, the Directorate is housed in Government Buildings, so no payment of rent; for Zone 3, in Gopal Building; for Zone 4, the Directorate is in Ebène Heights, and again, accommodation for Chinese Volunteers in four places: Garden House,
Quatre Bornes House, Port Louis House and Belle Rose House. I can circulate the list.
The Chairperson: Hon. Minister, when the reply is long, it is better for you to
circulate it. Page 173! Hon. Mrs Perraud!
Mrs Perraud: Under Item 22900.935 - Summer/Winter School Programme, can the
hon. Minister give a list of schools, please?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, I will circulate the list.
The Chairperson: Hon. Quirin!
Mr Quirin: Under Capital Expenditure, Item 31112.002 - Construction and
Extension of Schools of which Four Learning Swimming Pools (One per Zone) where Rs20 m. has been earmarked for the coming financial year. Can we know if there has been any tender exercise?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, we are not intending to make
swimming pools, what we call bassins d’apprentissage. We will have obviously to go through the procurement procedures.
The Chairperson: Hon. Rughoobur!
Mr Rughoobur: Item 31112.402 - Upgrading of Schools, where an amount of
Rs174,550 m. was earmarked for the current financial year. Now, it is decreased to Rs130 m.. May we know whether provision was made for reroofing works on emergency basis in the primary school in Goodlands?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Reroofing? Yes, Madam Chairperson.
The Chairperson: Hon. Ramful!
Mr Ramful: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. With regard to the construction of the four learning swimming pools, are they to be constructed within the precincts of the schools?
If so, can we have the name of the schools that have been identified?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: In fact, Madam Chairperson, they are not swimming
pools as such, we call them bassins d’apprentissage. They are small pools that will have to be fixed in. We have not identified the schools yet, but we intend to have one in each of the four zones.
The Chairperson: Hon. Ameer Meea!
Mr Ameer Meea: On page 173 - Upgrading of Schools where there is an amount of Rs174 m. Can I ask the hon. Minister whether the Abdool Raman Abdool School in Constituency No. 3 is included in the list and whether it will be upgraded? And also, if she can circulate the list of all the schools that will be upgraded?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, the school Abdool Raman Abdool
Government School is on the list and I see that Phase I is expected to be terminated. The MPI is assessing the remaining work. They had to stop the contractor. I see that following the demise of the contractor, the company went into receivership. So, works resumed by the Receiver Manager after the advice of the State Law Office was received. Now, for Phase II, it is going to be contracted out again.
Mr Ameer Meea: Can we have the list of all the schools that will be upgraded?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Okay!
The Chairperson: Hon. Mrs Selvon!
Mrs Selvon: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Under item 31122.802, Acquisition of IT Equipment – could the Minister, please, give some details about it as there has been a considerable increase?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: For IT equipment, we have acquisition of 808 computers.
Each primary school will receive three to four computers. Then you will have one printer per school and digital projectors as well. We also have defective digital projectors which need to be replaced. 1,400 PCs have been acquired. The delivery is expected on 2017. Each school will receive an average of five to six PCs.
The Chairperson: Hon. Rutnah!
Mr Rutnah: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. May I take the hon. Minister to page
173, item 22120.007 in relation to Fees for Training? Can I ask the hon. Minister what these fees entail and how many personnel are beneficiaries of these fees?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, we are talking about fees for
training and it involves the Inspectorate cadre, the Deputy Head Masters, Head Masters, Educators and ICT Support Officers. All these people will be trained.
The Chairperson: Hon. Adrien Duval!
Mr A. Duval: Madam Chairperson, with regard to item 31112.402, Upgrading of
Schools – we see Rs174 m. and a few hundred million for the next years. Is there provision, for example, for the University of Technology in Mauritius to upgrade the lactrine, the electricity not working, the printers not working and all of these?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, for that particular item, it is another budget, but let me inform the hon. Member that all these have already been done after my meeting with the students.
The Chairperson: Hon. Barbier!
Mr Barbier: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Under item 28212.004, Primary
School Supplementary Feeding Project – I can see that each year we are asking to vote Rs110 m. for this item. May I know what has been spent so far, for example, for the last financial year?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, there was a provision of Rs34 m.
for this year for the provision of the supplementary feeding project and for the provision of loaves of bread in all primary schools. It is Rs34 m. As far as the other supplementary feeding project is concerned, I see that we have Rs76 m. provided. It is for 6,675 pupils. It will be according to the number of days they have been supplied with food. It has started at the beginning of the second term.
So, it is about Rs75 per student per day.
The Chairperson: Hon. Uteem!
Mr Uteem: On the same item, 28212.004, I take it that this is the item where we are also budgeting for the food supplied to ZEP primary schools. Has it come to the attention of the hon. Minister of the quality of the food that is being served and the fact that the diet does not match what most of people attending? This is all vegetarian food. Is the Ministry considering reviewing the menu with the help of a nutritionist?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, the menu has been prepared and
decided upon by the Ministry of Health along with members of my Ministry. It is a menu provided by a nutritionist which is supposed to be a balanced diet. However, I have heard that some parents have complained because the food is totally vegetarian. Now, this was decided upon because of problems cropped up earlier because of food turning sour during the day, especially for non-veg food. So, this was a precautionary measure. I will also circulate the menu being provided to the children and, obviously, whenever we have any complaint about the quality of food, the contractors are taken to task.
The Chairperson: Page 174, hon. Mrs Perraud!
Mrs Perraud: At page 174, item 31122.823 Acquisition of Equipment for Early
Digital Learning Programme – can we have some information about this item, please?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Now, the Early Digital Learning Programme refers to the tablets that are being procured through the Government of India, an Indian company known as Edzil India. The final specifications have been submitted in view of the floating of bids and the procurement of tablets which will be done through the Indian counterparts.
The Chairperson: Hon. Uteem!
Mr Uteem: Yes, it is in relation to the Educators. We are on page 174, item 21110,
there is an increase of more than 200 Educators who would be recruited. May I know from the hon. Minister the timing when is it planned to advertise these vacancies?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, we have already taken up this year of around 257 Educators. Is the hon. Member referring to Secondary School Educators?
Mr Uteem: Yes.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: So, they will be taken up as soon as the PSC is ready.
We are going to forward to the PSC. We have 200 additional posts that will be reported to the PSC after the amendment of the scheme of service for the post of Educator (Secondary) for the following reasons –
• there are new subjects being introduced: travel/tourism, business studies and
• a new curriculum framework is also being introduced for grade 9
So, we will have to wait for the scheme of service to be ready.
The Chairperson: Page 175! Page 176, hon. Ms Sewocksingh!
Ms Sewocksingh: Under item 22070, Cleaning Services – may I know from the hon. Minister who has been awarded this contract and how much?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: For the cleaning services, we have cleaning of office
premises and cleaning of school premises. We have Mauriclean Ltd., Professional Cleaners Group Ltd. and New Cleaning Services.
The Chairperson: Hon. Quirin!
Mr Quirin: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Under item 26313.027, Mauritius
Institute of Training and Development (Prevoc) - Rs15m. has been budgeted for last financial year and approximately the same, Rs15.4 m. for next financial year.
Can we have a breakdown for both amounts, please?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: So, for the Mauritius Institute of Training and
Development, we have salaries and allowances to the 56 staff of the prevocational education.
We have payment for utilities, security and cleaning services for the prevocational centres.
We also have increase of the budgetary provision to cater for the payment of incremental credit to eligible officers and also to meet the payment of salary compensation with effect from January 2018.
The Chairperson: Hon. Adrien Duval!
Mr A. Duval: Yes, thank you Madam Chairperson. Under item 21110 – General
Worker, similar to hon. Minister Nando Bodha, here they are nearly doubling a funded position for general workers. This is delegated by the PSC to the Ministry and we see that for year 2018/19 there is another increase, so therefore probably up to 500 being the total – about 500. Can we have a guarantee from the Minister that she will recruit from all over the country and not only in St Pierre, Moka?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, the Ministry has always recruited
through the delegation of powers by a list obtained from the Ministry of Labour and it has always been across the island.
The Chairperson: Hon. Mrs Perraud!
Mrs Perraud: So, page 176, under item 22 - Goods and Services, can we have some information about this item please?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, I find that it refers to the cost of
utilities, payment of utilities so zone of directorates and public secondary schools, electricity and gas chargers, telephone, water charges, wastewater charges, fuel and oil for vehicles.
The Chairperson: Hon. Jhuboo!
Mr Jhuboo: Item – 22090 – Security, there is a provision of Rs18 m. for years 2018, 2019 and 2020. Can we have the name of the company?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, for security services, we have
contractors for both primary and secondary schools. For night security we have RSL Security Services Ltd; Rapid Security Services Ltd and for daytime security, we have Defence Hi-tech Security Guard Ltd and RSL Security Services Ltd.
The Chairperson: Hon. Ameer Meea!
Mr Ameer Meea: Yes, under item 26313.123 - Mahatma Gandhi Institute, there is a huge amount half a billion rupees, may we, at least, have a breakdown of this sum?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: So, the grant for Mahatma Gandhi Institute is for the
provision of payment, increments and other commitments, for example, the filling of vacancy including 81 posts of educators which have been filled recently and also for the filling of vacancies arising through retirement of officers.
The Chairperson: Hon. Barbier!
Mr Barbier: Page 176, fourth line, General Worker. There is considerable increase
from 237 to 417 posts. May we have some justification for that considerable increase in the labour force?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Just give me one second, I will come to that. So we have here the 200 additional posts. The Ministry of Labour has submitted a list of qualified candidates to enable the Ministry to conduct selection for the filling of the post. Due to lack of qualified candidates for appointment as school caretaker, because they need to have certain qualifications, we are taking a corresponding number of general workers.
The Chairperson: Page 177, Hon. Rughoobur!
Mr Rughoobur: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Under item 26313.131 - PSEA -
Private Secondary Schools (Salary & other staff costs), there is a provision of Rs3,900,000 billion; for the forthcoming year it is Rs3,950,000 billion. It should be including the salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff of private secondary schools. May I know from the hon. Minister whether the PSSA has a droit de regard in the recruitment of the teaching and nonteaching staff in the Private Secondary Schools?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, according to the Education Act, this is not so, the recruitment is done by the private secondary schools however, according to the qualification requirements of the PSEA.
The Chairperson: Hon. Sewocksingh!
Ms Sewocksingh: Thank you Madam Chairperson. Under item – 31112.002 – NonResidential Buildings -Construction and Extension of Schools, may I know from the hon. Minister, how these schools have been selected please - items from (a) to (j)?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: According to the requirements of the school, Madam
The Chairperson: Hon. Osman Mahomed!
Mr Osman Mahomed: Thank you. Under item – 27210.013 - Social Assistance
Benefits - S.C and H.S.C. Examination Fees, can I ask the hon. Minister, how much was actually disbursed in the last financial year and what measures is she envisaging taking at the Ministry to alleviate the havoc that has happened over the last two years, for reasons we are not aware of.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, may I inform the hon. Member that the MES had paid the whole amount last year and out of all the students who sat, if I am not mistaken it is around 8,000 students in total - the last time I took information from the MES, those who haven’t paid turn around 1500. and the total fees paid last year was Rs280,925,879.
The Chairperson: Hon. Uteem!
Mr Uteem: On the same item, payment of fees for S.C and H.S.C., there was a
circular note issued this year about qualifying the criteria, the 90% eligibility. Has the hon. Minister received any representation to review the criteria, to include for example absences due to bereavement or due to religious activities?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, in the regulation, we have provided around 15 days per year for the students as absences. Now, in case someone is ill or has got a prolonged illness, he is already taking care of if that person provide the necessary documents at the time that he was not well.
The Chairperson: Hon. Jahangeer!
Mr Jahangeer: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Under item 26323.123 - Mahatma
Gandhi Institute, there is actually a building under construction in the yard of the school. The building is intended for design and technology classes. The construction of the same building has been stopped due to lack of funds, can the hon. Minister elaborate?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: I have got no information regarding stoppage of work at the MGI, in fact, I see that provision has been made for the institution.
The Chairperson: Hon. Adrien Duval!
Mr A. Duval: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Under item 28211 - Transfers to
Non-Profit Institutions, with the centralization of the CSR now, with regard to these NGOs, with the handicapped schools, can the hon. Minister tell us if she will increase the grant to these private run handicapped schools because they are now facing a lot of difficulties to get financing?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, in the budget the amount that is
allotted to these schools has been increased to Rs115 m. this year.
The Chairperson: Page 178, hon. Rutnah!
Mr Rutnah: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. If I may take the hon. Minister to item 31112.402 in relation to Upgrading of Schools, I am interested particularly with item (h) R. Prayag SSS. I anticipate that it is Ramsoondur Prayag State Secondary School in Rivière du Rempart. This is a school that has been in a lamentable condition for the past 10 years. My constituents would be interested to know, through me today, as to when work is likely to start, and whether during the course of upgrading work where students would be relocated to?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: I need to mention that decision has already been taken to demolish the existing classroom blocks and the construction of new ones in Phases. So, an estimated Rs70 m. has been earmarked to carry out the processes of the first phase. The MPI is working on the design of the new school.
The Chairperson: Page 179, hon. Mrs Perraud!
Mrs Perraud: Item 28211.067 - RCEA for Special Education Needs (SEN) Schools.
I would like to have a list of schools, please?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: I will circulate the list, Madam Chairperson.
The Chairperson: Hon. Adrien Duval!
Mr A. Duval: Under the same item, Madam Chairperson, following what I was
saying earlier, if the hon. Minister can take into consideration schools in Curepipe.
There are some schools now in Curepipe that are not being financed, and if she can, at least, give them some time to receive them and sort it out. There are schools for handicapped and it is a very serious matter.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, all schools need to be registered
with the SEN sector of my Ministry before being eligible for any formal support.
Yes certainly, ask them to contact the Ministry!
The Chairperson: Page 180, hon. Uteem!
Mr Uteem: Page 180, under item 21110.001 - Careers Guidance, there is going to be an increase in Careers Counsellors. May I ask the hon. Minister in relation to the Careers Guidance, Careers Counsellors, how do they operate? Do they go to schools and advise students or do they carry out fairs? If they do fairs, how many fairs were organised last year?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, for Careers Guidance, we now
have the support of the Human Resource Development Council where a consultancy service has been provided by a British firm to review the whole system, and together with the HRDC, the professionals there and members of my Ministry do carry out fairs in schools at the request of schools. And then, after Form 3, careers guidance is provided to the students during their choice of subjects.
The Chairperson: Hon. Jahangeer!
Mr Jahangeer: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Item 31112.002 with regard to
Rivière des Anguilles GS, will the hon. Minister inform the House as to where matters stand?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: For Rivière des Anguilles GS, I note that the project
value is around Rs28 m. and the starting date was 16 February 2015. Now, the construction has been completed and the centre was operationalized with effect from 16 August 2016 in partnership with an NGO, the Southern Handicapped Association.
The Chairperson: Page 181, hon. Ms Sewocksingh!
Ms Sewocksingh: Item 28212.020 - Student Scholarship Schemes for Vulnerable
Households, may I know from the hon. Minister why there is a decrease from Rs55 m. to Rs50 m. in the Estimates of 2016/2017?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: This Student Scholarship Schemes for Vulnerable
groups is normally done upon the request of the students. They get admitted in a tertiary institution and then they turn to the Ministry for support. Now, if the sum has not been utilised, it is carried forward.
The Chairperson: Hon. Adrien Duval!
Mr A. Duval: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Item 28212.032 Scholarship Scheme to Students with Disabilities, we see that the amount has remained the same for the four years to come. Can we know, first of all, how many students are benefiting from it, the criteria and how many students who should be benefiting from it but are not?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: In fact, Madam Chairperson, this has been started this
year only. We have provided five scholarships. So, we take these students who are already in our institutions whether private or public. Those wishing to go for tertiary education are selected, and we select five every year. That is why the sum is the same.
The Chairperson: Page 182, hon. Uteem!
Mr Uteem: Item 26313.088 - Extra Budgetary Units Grants to Tertiary Education
Commission /Tertiary Education Institutions (TEIs), may I know from the hon. Minister whether the Tertiary Education Commission has taken any actions against any institutions that were not licensed by it and were providing courses to students? What action has been taken since last year?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, I do not think tertiary institutions
can operate without having been provided a licence from the TEC. And TEC can only monitor those that are registered with it.
The Chairperson: Hon. Baboo, page 182!
Mr Baboo: Item 22130 – Studies and Surveys, what are studies and surveys that are carried out?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: For studies and surveys, the first one being the setting up of the Mauritius Higher Education Desk for the marketing and enhancing the visibility of Higher Education and to conduct market research. These are the studies that have been carried out.
The Chairperson: Hon Armance!
Mr Armance: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Item 26313.088 - (c) University of
Technology, Mauritius, I see the budget has nearly doubled. Can we, please, have some details?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: In the case of the University of Technology, they have
been provided funds for the construction of the UTM Tower.
The Chairperson: Hon. Barbier!
Mr Barbier: Page 182, last item 26313.143 - Polytechnics Mauritius Ltd, it seems to be a private body and maybe it is the first time that we are asked to vote for Rs35 m. for that item. May we know who are the shareholders or owners of that institution?
Shareholders or owners because it looks like a private body! So, who are the shareholders and who is going to manage that institution?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Polytechnics Mauritius Ltd. is a company where the
Government is the sole shareholder. It is managed by a team of members from the private sector as well. The private sector sits on the Board of Polytechnics Mauritius.
The Chairperson: Page 183, hon. Uteem!
Mr Uteem: Item 26323.088 - Tertiary Education Commission /Tertiary Education
Institutions (TEIs), (a) Infrastructure Funding for Tertiary Education Institutions, an amount of Rs50 m. is earmarked as from next year. So, may I know from the hon. Minister which tertiary education institutions are concerned by this funding?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: We are talking about UTM and Université des
Mr Uteem: There is already a sub-heading for UTM, etc?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: This is a special fund, the infrastructure fund that TEC is going to provide.
The Chairperson: Hon. Adrien Duval, page 183!
Mr A. Duval: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Same item UTM and Université des Mascareignes, can we appeal to the hon. Minister to put the money where it is required in terms of student facilities, equipment and printers, etc. A lot of complains have been registered. Please, we appeal to you to put it where it matters.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Chairperson, I have just informed the hon.
Member that this has already been done.
Vote 9-1 Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and
Scientific Research (Rs16,600,000,000) was called and agreed to.