MAURITIUS INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION
On resuming at 9.34 p.m. with the Deputy Speaker in the Chair.
THE MAURITIUS INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION (AMENDMENT) BILL
(NO. II OF 2017) (25/04/17)
Order for Second Reading read.
The Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research (Mrs L. D. Dookun-Luchoomun): Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, with your permission, I move that the Mauritius Institute of Education (Amendment) Bill (No. II of 2017) be read a second time.
This Bill purports to amendments that are being made to the Mauritius Institute of Education Act with the main object of upgrading the institution into a degree awarding body and making provision for matters ancillary thereto. Let me state at the very outset that the presentation of this Bill falls within the context of the major systemic reforms being undertaken in the education sector especially that relating to the Nine Year Continuous Basic Education Programme.
Teachers, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, are the single most important within school factor for students’ achievement. It has been truly well said that “No education system can rise above the quality of its teachers.” Hence, the successful implementation of the NYCBE rests on the provision of the opportunities that will improve educators’ professionalism at various stages of their career. Teacher retention is also greatly encouraged when opportunities are created for them to look forward with career long learning possibilities. Otherwise, there is likely to be a generalisation of the situation that we see in the Caribbean region with poaching of and subsequent brain drain and exodus of teachers.
The MIE, as the major teacher education institution is, therefore, called upon to play a crucial role in this context. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, to do so, the existing legislation governing the MIE has to be amended. As it stands today, the MIE Act allows the Institute to only award certificates and diplomas but not degrees. By the same Act, the MIE can only make recommendations to the University of Mauritius for the award and conferment of the same. This restrictive legal provision has created serious roadblocks on the advancement of teacher training and continuous professional development of the teaching community. This is quite unacceptable.
Over the years, the MIE has trained around 50,000 educators in different subject areas. This has been done in close collaboration with a number of higher education institutions. Where the University of Mauritius is concerned, we are talking of the B.Ed. programmes while programmes at Masters and Doctorate levels are dispensed in close association with international institutions of repute such as the University of Brighton UK, Middlesex University UK and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Thus, apart from the 213 MA education students it has had on roll, the MIE has 31 other registered at PhD level and a number of that includes Academics from other tertiary education institutions as well.
The remarkable aspect is that 44 years down the line while most of its personnel with Masters and PhD degrees are engaged in supervision of dissertation and also run and jointly deliver Masters programmes, the institution itself has no power of awarding its own degrees. This is ironical because as far back as 2013 the Quality Audit Report of the MIE which was effected by the Tertiary Education Commission with a panel of international experts had recommended that MIE be given the status of a degree awarding institution.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, we all know that the Mauritius Institute of Education was set up in 1973 to engage in three major tasks –
(i) teacher education;
(ii) curriculum development, and
Where the first two are concerned, it has fulfilled its responsibilities to the full. Thus, the national curriculum frameworks for the three subsectors of schooling have been elaborated. On the other hand, it has over the years provided the necessary workforce for the country to develop its education sector and, by extension, its economy.
Through its higher education provision it has widened the avenue for mobility for a number of people who would have, otherwise, not been able to aspire to higher education. A number of those who could not afford to go abroad for higher education obtained the opportunity for higher education through the MIE and could aspire to a career in the education sector. Were it not for the MIE, they would perhaps not have been able to pursue their professional development and a career and, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, among these we have a large number of lady teachers.
Indeed, much of the feminisation of the education sector that we are witnessing today may well be due to the capacity building and professional development facilities offered by the MIE. There is no doubt that the MIE has today become a flagship institution for education in its own right.
Research is the characteristic feature of high education institutions. It is, therefore, interesting to note that the MIE is engaged in research through a number of institutional initiatives associated with its Masters and PhD programmes as well as its Post-Graduate Certificate in education programme. It is worth highlighting that MIE staff are engaged in research projects funded by the MRC in areas such as discipline problems in schools, mapping educational achievement and early childhood in Mauritius. They even publish regularly in local and international journals of education in their respective fields of expertise. In addition, it holds regular research seminars so as to develop research capacities in Mauritius. Such activities benefit both MIE and other tertiary institutions who participate in its research activities. It is currently experimenting and developing a number of research papers on educational technology. Furthermore, the MIE has engaged educators in a culture of active research, allowing teachers to enhance their learning and teaching process within their classrooms through innovative pedagogies.
There are, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, two other features we need to keep in view to demonstrate the reality check that the MIE has come of age to graduate to a degree awarding status –
(i) over the years MIE has gained recognition outside Mauritius and it is noteworthy that the MIE diplomas holders are recognised and working in countries like Canada, Australia and UK. I am informed that today, it is noteworthy that professional degrees of the MIE graduates are given due recognition in Canada, a country which is well-known for its stringent requirements in terms of recognition offering qualifications. I need hardly stress further the significant contribution that MIE can bring to the construction of the knowledge hub when recognised as a degree awarding body and as a centre of excellence for curriculum development and teacher education in this part of the world. Already as Minister, I am being constantly solicited by some states of our continent to facilitate the transmission of MIE expertise in both domains, and
(ii) it is worth mentioning that MIE has a strong quality assurance mechanism model on that of external universities. MIE has so far been subjected to two external quality assurance audits conducted by the Tertiary Education Commission and it has been implementing the recommendations of the external audits.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, at the time the MIE started offering the BA programmes, it had been relatively recently setup and the tertiary education landscape as well was quite restricted with just the University of Mauritius as a one public university that awarded and conferred degrees.
The tertiary education landscape has today considerably evolved and in this change environment it is deemed timeliest for the MIE to graduate into a degree awarding body. It is in this new context, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, that this Bill is being presented. The objectives of bringing the amendments to the MIE Act are to consolidate the provisions of the Act and to empower the Institute to confer its own degree programmes at Bachelor’s level.
Allow me, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, to now present and explain the rationale behind the amendments proposed in the Bill. Section 2 of the MIE Act will be amended to include the definition of “Tertiary Education Institution” which will be as already defined in the TEC Act, that is, the Tertiary Education Institution means public Tertiary Education Institution as specified in the Schedule. This amendment has resulted from the proposed review of the composition of the Academic Board to ensure a greater representation of the tertiary education sector.
One of the objects of the Bill is to empower the Institute to confer its own degree programme at Bachelor’s level. Currently, as per Section 6(2)(b)(i) of the MIE Act, the Institute has to make recommendations to the University of Mauritius for the award and conferring of degrees as it cannot award degrees on its own. This is considered to be a serious limitation. Thus with the proposed amendments to grant degree-awarding status to the Institution, this Section will no more be valid and will, therefore, stand to be deleted.
In the same breath, the related Section 6(2 (b)(ii) of the MIE Act will be amended to provide for the Institute to now award degrees whether on its own or jointly with any other tertiary education institution, in addition to its existing power to award certificates and. Diplomas. MIE will continue to associate itself with external universities in course development, quality assurance, curriculum development and research, thus, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, will give its degrees an international validation and recognition.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, Section 10(3) of the MIE Act provides for the composition of the MIE Council which is the apex body of the Institute responsible for the management and administration of its affairs. The MIC Council regroups representatives of different stakeholders of the education sector including one representative of the Ministry responsible for Finance and one representative of the Ministry responsible for Economic Development.
However, as there is only one Ministry which has been assigned for some time now with this responsibility, namely, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, these sub-Sections will be amended to provide for only one representative from that Ministry.
In replacement, given that the MIE caters for the training for both the State and Private Secondary education sectors, it is proposed to include a representative of the Private Secondary Education Authority (PSEA) on the Council. This will ensure a better representation of the private secondary education sector at the level of teacher training, particularly in view of the specificity of this sector. In so doing, it is considered that there will henceforth a better representation of all stakeholders of the education sector on the MIE Council.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, currently, Section 11 of the MIE Act provides that the Academic Board makes recommendations to the University of Mauritius for the award of degrees. With MIE being empowered to award its own degrees, this would not stand any more. Hence, it is proposed to delete Section 11(2). In the same breath, related Section 11(3) will be amended to also include award of degrees so that the Academic Board will henceforth be responsible for the award of degrees in addition to certificates and diplomas. Moreover, the MIE Academic Board which consists of representatives of my Ministry, unions of primary and secondary sectors and representatives of the University of Mauritius and now that the MIE has been working with the University of Mauritius, the UTM and the Open University of Mauritius among other Tertiary Education Institutions, an amendment is also being proposed to the composition of the Academic Board to allow for better coordination and effective collaboration. The proposal is to have the Academic Board henceforth consisting of two representatives of the Tertiary Education Institutions instead of two representatives from exclusively the University of Mauritius. The definition and designation of the Tertiary Education Institutions would be as already provided in the TEC Act. This amendment will provide for greater dynamism and creativity in the academic operations of the institution.
In line with the amendment for the MIE to award its own degrees, provision will have to be made at Section 19 of the Act for the Council to make regulations as appropriate for the proper functioning of its Institute. A new subsection 19 (1) (c) (a) is proposed to be introduced to enable the Institute to make Regulations if required for the award of degrees in addition to certificates and diplomas.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the proposed amendments to be brought to the MIE Act are long overdue. In fact, they are in line with the ultimate goal of my Ministry which is to make teaching an all-graduate profession. Besides, this proposal for a changed status of the MIE aligns with international trends where similar Teacher Training Institutes, sometimes operating under the Ministry of Education, are empowered to award degrees. Such models are the Institute of Technology, New Delhi, the Institute of Education of the UK, the EIE Institute of Education, Malta as well as the Independent Institute of Education, South Africa, and the IPG campus Rajah of Malaysia amongst others.
With the amendments, the MIE will continue to be subjected to the quality assurance mechanism of the Tertiary Education Commission. I am confident that this initiative will bring a significantly positive impact in the teaching and learning process and at the same time enhance the confidence of our teachers, which can be but beneficial to our pupils and the future generations.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, with these words, I commend the Bill to the House, and I thank you all for your attention.
Mr Bodha rose and seconded.
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Baloomoody!
Mr V. Baloomoody (Third Member for GRNW & Port Louis West):
Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. Let me start by the Cabinet decision
taken on 31 March 2017; decision 6 of the Cabinet, which reads as follows –
“Cabinet has agreed to the introduction of the Mauritius Institute of Education (Amendment) Bill into the National Assembly. The main object of the Bill is to upgrade - the word ‘upgrade’ is used - the Mauritius Institute of Education into a degree-awarding body in the context of the education reforms. The Institute would continue to associate itself with external universities - that they are doing now with Brighton and South African Universities - in course development, quality assurance - this is important. That was Cabinet decision - curriculum development and research.”
This is what Cabinet decided. The keywords are ‘upgrade the MIE into a degree- awarding body’, ‘quality assurance’, ‘curriculum development and research’. But when we refer to the Explanatory Memorandum of the Bill, what do we read? Just two lines!
“The main object of the Bill is to upgrade the MIE into a degree awarding institution and to make provision for matters ancillary thereof.”
Already, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, we find a fundamental difference between what
Cabinet decided and approved and what this Bill proposes. This is of utmost importance, as I will address this fundamental issue, which is quality assurance: independent quality assurance, independent quality control which, unfortunately, this Bill is doing away with.
I have been very, very kind enough to listen to the hon. Member. Can he please listen?
He will have an opportunity to reply. So, to start, let us see what we have available today with regard to degree-awarding institutions. I am not going to talk about all the foreign universities which have a campus here because their campuses are here, but the degrees are from external universities. So, the quality control is there with regard to these universities. They give the course here, but the Board, the Senate of whatever foreign universities we have here are the ones that award the degrees. So, I am not going to talk with regard to these universities.
I am going to talk about what we have with regard to our universities in Mauritius, degree-awarding institutions now. We have today, in Mauritius, the University of Mauritius, which was officially established in 1969, and in 1975, the University of Mauritius Act was passed and it defined the object, powers, functions, structure of the University. The University of Mauritius today is the main provider of tertiary education. Its degrees and certificates are recognised both in the region and worldwide. It is an institution of excellence and of regional eminence. Then, we have the University of Technology, which was established in the year 2000. The main objective of the University of Technology was to provide multilevel tertiary education and training to meet the needs of Mauritius with emphasis on sustainable development with regard to science and technology. However, when we look at the courses offered today by the University of Technology, it is clear that it has deviated from its objectives. They are offering all sorts of courses today other than specialising in science and technology. It is to be noted that the MMM will be consistent with itself, and this will be our stand today. We took that stand in 2000. We took the same stand in 2012 when the Bill for the Open University was passed. We took the same stand, and together with the MSM, when the hon. Minister today, who was then a member of the Opposition with the MMM, we took the same stand when the Université des Mascareignes was founded. I will come to that later.
Now, it is to be noted when the Bill for the establishment of the UTM was debated in the House on 23 March 2000, we, in the MMM, were not against its establishment, but we had strong reservation about its administrative structure and the political control, where the Board of Governors of the UTM is completely under the control of the Minister. The Board is chaired by the president appointed by the Minister, and when one looks at the composition of the whole Board, there is a complete ministerial control.
We, in the MMM at that time, in 2000, were against this lack of academic freedom. Unfortunately - and I stress on the word ‘unfortunately ’, we know what is happening at the university today. There has been and there is still political interference in the running of the university in its appointments and promotion of its staff. Today, we know what is happening at the UTM. There was strike last week. Teachers, academics are challenging promotions. There have been cases in court in the past regarding promotion, challenging the Director’s decision. This is at the UTM, but unfortunately, like I said, this is what is happening.
Then, we have the Open University of Mauritius, established on 12 March 2012, and according to the Open University of Mauritius Act 2010, the Mauritius College of the Air, which was established in 1971, has integrated the Open University of Mauritius in July 2012, and the Open University provides different courses. Then, we have the Université des Mascareignes founded in 2012. It is the fourth public university in Mauritius. It was established after a merger between l’Institut supérieur de technologie de Camp Levieux and Swami Dayanand Management of Pamplemousses.
When the Bill for the University of Technology was passed, the MSM was not in the House. So, we do not know the stand the MSM would have taken when the Bill was passed, establishing the University of Technology. But when the Université des Mascareignes was passed, the MSM did intervene. Its porte-parole then, today hon. Minister DookunLuchoomun, did intervene. Then, we have, other than these four universities, two institutions - not universities - under the aegis of the Ministry of Education, which both offer degree courses, but the certificates are issued either by the University of Mauritius or the UTM, depending which courses, if you are part-time or full-time. You receive a certificate from a university, not an Institute.
Let me talk about what the MIE Bill deals with. Let us look at the MIE Act when it was passed. What was the object of the MIE? Let us read section 4 of the Act –
“4. Objects of the Institute
(1) The objects of the Institute shall be to -
(a) provide facilities for and engage in educational research, curriculum development and teacher education in order to promote the advancement of learning and knowledge in the field of education;
(b) provide teacher education responsive to the social, linguistic, administrative, scientific, agricultural and technological needs of Mauritius; and
(c) do all such things as are incidental or conducive to the
attainment of those objects.”
This is what MIE was created for! Let me refer this House to the debates of 1973. I refer to the mover who, at that time, was the Minister of Education, hon. Jomadar –
“That is why after careful study of the function of the institute and after taking the advice of Mr Dodge from the Overseas Development Administration and of UNESCO, it was found preferable to set up the institute, not as a school of the University, but as a separate institution, a corporate body under the general supervision of the Ministry of Education and working in close collaboration with the University of Mauritius.”
Why this close collaboration?
The hon. Member will intervene later as his name is on the list. Can you please, listen?
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Baloomoody: Otherwise if you want to take the floor, I am prepared to give the floor!
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Baloomoody: The main objective was to have a close collaboration with the University of Mauritius and this is the independent academic, quality control which is essential for a degree. So, it is clear from both the debate introducing the Bill and the debate in the House that the MIE was set up for a specific purpose like
I have quoted in the Act and in the Bill. Thus, the MIE was to be an institute based on what we have in the UK, namely the Institute of Education which is the Education School of the University College of London. So, it is an institute whose certificate is from the University College of London. The Institute of Education is the largest education research body in UK. It has the largest portfolio of degrees and postgraduate programmes in education - we are talking about education in UK - and it is ranked first in the world. Thus, the IOE runs the course and conducts research and the quality control of the University College of London.
As today, the MIE is running courses under the independent quality control of the University of Mauritius.
Tertiary Education Commission is the supervisory body, but the quality control is done by both, but the certificate is issued by the University of Mauritius. Thus, the MIE is an institute whereby quality control of its courses is conducted by the well-established and recognised institution, namely the University of Mauritius and its degree certificate is issued by the University of Mauritius, a recognised, regional, international institution qui a fait ses preuves since the last 35 years.
Now, let me refer to what the hon. Minister herself said when addressing the House on 03 March 2015, in the course of the Government Programme speech. This is what she had to say –
“There will be 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 this sector to take.”
And she was right! She was right because after what has happened in our Tertiary Education, all sorts of unrecognised universities were allowed to send campus in Mauritius. Therefore, the hon. Minister was right to have a full audit of our Tertiary Education. Now, my question is simple: we are two and a half years after that speech was made in this House. Two and a half years of this Minister! Fortunately, the same Minister is still the Minister of Education.
Have we had that Audit Report? If we have, can we have a copy?
Why do you say why? It is public funds for public institutions. We are concerned about the value of the degree we are going to give. We were concerned, you were concerned when you took over as Minister. You stated in the Government Programme speech that there will be an audit. Have we had an audit of all the Tertiary Education Institutions, including the MIE and the MGI and the four universities? And if so, can you please lay it on the Table of the Assembly so that we know whether we are going in the same direction as recommended by that audit? This is the issue!
Let us be clear. We are not converting the MIE into a university. The MIE will remain an Institute under the aegis of the Ministry of Education, as it is now. It will remain an Institute, but now with all the ancillary amendments announced, we are removing the University of Mauritius out completely. All the representatives of the University of Mauritius out! So, they will award a degree without any independent quality control. This is why probably the word ‘quality control’ is not mentioned in the memorandum of that Bill. So, we end up after three or four years with a degree certificate from an Institute and not from a University.
No, right now, it is from the University of Mauritius. The degree is for either the University of Technology, but not a degree from an Institute.
An awarding body must have the appropriate power and/or has satisfied any relevant accreditation process that is required within the country. Has the MIE satisfied any accreditation process and, if so, can we have that report? Which body gives that accreditation process? What will be the equivalence of the degree awarded by the MIE at regional and international levels? Have there been studies done? I know students who have got a PhD in Europe, in Africa, especially Europe, people whom I know, their first degree is from Mauritius and it is recognised. Do we have the guarantee today that a first degree from an Institute where there is no university mentioned, MIE Institute under a Ministry will be recognised at the same level as a university degree? These are the questions we are asking today.
Why am I asking this question? It is not the first time that the issue of allowing the MIE to award degree on its own has come up. The issue has been canvassed since 1982 and each and every Minister of Education who has been appointed Minister of Education has refused that lobby because they know that it won’t be in the interest of any degree holder for the future. I have spoken to, at least, four ex-Ministers of Education. Even the last Minister of Tertiary Education, hon. Dr. Jeetah, refused to give way although he was allowing - I must say, the worse Minister - to send campus, but he refused. But all Ministers since 1982, under the MSM Government, under the MMM Government or under the Labour Party Government have refused because they know that a degree from that institution, independent from a quality control university will be probably not to the advantage of a degree holder.
I have listened carefully to the hon. Minister. I must say, I am not convinced. She has not put forward any compelling reasons as to why we are coming to this Bill. Just upgrading! Just by telling an institution to give in, now you upgrade that institution, without looking at an audit! I’ll not do that.
So, if Government wants to review and upgrade MIE, it’s to review the whole mandate of the MIE. It should have carried out a full audit of the institution since it was set up, to make a proper swot analysis.
If you have it, let’s have a copy of it! Lay it on the Table!
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Baloomoody: Analysis to analyse its weakness, its strength, until review, its needs and required resources to perform as its best. Rather than taking such course of actions, the Bill makes a little tricking as done with the Nine-Year Schooling, and we are promised another burden to that institution which will have to shoulder the Nine-Year Schooling project.
Now, questions are being asked as to whether the MIE is, in fact, providing a teaching education responsive to the social, economic, linguistic, administrative, scientific, agricultural and technological needs of Mauritius. Let me give one example! Let’s look at the last results of the CPE, SC and HSC!
No, the teachers are from the MIE, they are trained. All the teachers who teach CPE, SC and HSC are supposed to have been formed, trained by the MIE. So, one can compare the performance of what the teachers are giving, the performance of their education, their training with the result. There must be a correlation between what is delivered in classrooms and what we had as the end result.
Let me take the CPE first! In 2012, CPE 83% passed; 2014: 83%; 2016: 81%, decreasing. And what is worse, so, in 17,099 candidates, 13,160 succeed in their examinations, 720 re-sat and they passed the examinations, 3,212 students failed. That is the CPE for last year.
Let us look for the SC! 75% in 2005; 78% in 2010; 72% in 2015; 72% in 2016, decreasing again. In the total of 15,532 who took the examinations, 4,403 failed the SC examinations.
The HSC, 78% in 2005 and 75% in 2016. Out of 9,285 students who took the examinations, 2,279 failed.
But worse, when you go in the details - and this where the question is being asked about our teachers.
Let say in English, when you look at the mention of credit, that is, one to six, 54% in 2012 and 50% in 2016. So, 50% of students who passed the SC examinations, failed, don’t get a credit in English.
In French, only 57% got a credit. One will have supposed that French is the most spoken language and easier, only 57%. So, 43% of students who passed SC, don’t get a credit in French.
And in Mathematics, it is even worse. It was 55% in 2012 contre 48% in 2016. So, more than 50% of students who passed the SC, don’t get a credit. So, forget about these students joining as civil servants. No credit in English, no credit in French and no credit in Mathematics!
Now, let’s look at the elite, those who get the A+. In English, only 373 students, that is, 2% in 2012 compared to 200 in 2016, that is only 1% of the students who took the SC examinations got an A+.
4% of the students who took the SC examinations in French got an A+. 3% of the students who took an examination in Mathematics got an A+. This is the quality of education, the MIE, the teachers were teaching our students, the MIE is proving today. And we want this institution now, without any audit, without any looking back at its composition or its academic structure to issue degree. Et la triste réalité de l’échec scolaire, M. le président!
You know if you look at the age group. For each ten children who take the Std I examinations, only 8 will get a CPE, only 5 will get a SC, and only 2 will get a HSC. This is the reality. 10 who enter Std IV, class one ‘first’, 8 will get a CPE, 5 will get a SC and 2 will get a HSC. This is the reality.
This figures are from the Mauritius Examination Syndicate, these are not my figures.
So, this is the reality with regard to our education system today we know that these teachers are being trained by the MIE.
Now, when it comes to curriculum research, curriculum development, in its own website, the MIE says it is also responsible for research and curriculum development. It is the Body in charge of developing the curriculum, textbook writing and evaluation. Unfortunately, the MIE has failed to deliver in research and curriculum development. The typical classroom, as I knew it, as you knew it probably when you were student, has remained unaltered.
A few classes have changed. But we still use the chalk and the blackboard.
Private tuition has consolidated its grip on the system. Examinations determine the curricular, the programmes of studies and the classroom pedagogy. With regard to research, we hardly have any ground of breaking research carried out by the MIE, since it was created.
The MIE is supposed to promote advancements of knowledge and innovation in education through research. Informal educational policy, improved access to initial and continuous professional development in education to provide quality service to education. When we look at the MIE website, all that we have with regard to research are a few research projects dated as back as 2011. This is what we see in the website. The teaching profession is yet to see major research contribution in the field of teaching in Mauritius.
If the MIE has not yet carried out really good research so far as it can boost itself, how will it, a degree awarding institution, improve its capacity of research? This is the question we are asking. Now, this is not all! The MIE claims to be the body in charge of textbooks writing and evaluation. Year in year out we hear about the delays in the publication of textbooks on time. On certain occasions, textbooks are printed in a few units at a time and later photocopied to be distributed to students. I am not the one saying all this let us see in the audit report itself.
The audit report says clearly how - and, it is good to know that this audit report is the first audit report of this Government. It starts from January 2015 to July 2016. What does the audit report have to say with regard to books? It says –
“11.3.1 Orders placed late and books delivered to schools with
considerable delays –
(a) Due to poor planning, the procurement exercises were carried out late in 2016.
“There was a lack of monitoring and coordination between MIE and the Ministry regarding submission of materials for new books and the subsequent clearances for printing.” Lack of coordination!
“ICT manuals for Pre-Voc Year IV, which should have been made available at schools at the start of the academic year, were procured in July 2015.”
This is the MIE we have today! What is worse for Rodriguans - I hope they are not being treated as second-class citizens - there was more delay be in Rodrigues and worse in Agaléga.
Printing of books was not ordered on time, quality was not good, there were so many errors, etcetera.
When we look at the website of the MIE, I hope I am wrong but it has not been updated by the things coming after. Can you imagine, the last Director’s Report of the MIE dates as far back as the year 2011 and it was published in 2012! This is what we see on the website.
Even with the Nine-Year Schooling, up to now, teachers are desperately looking for examination papers which the MES is supposed to produce. Can we say that the MIE has been a success story when we look at all its missions? Has there been a proper audit to see whether it is delivering? Why the urgent need now to allow the MIE to run degree courses on its own and to issue certificates on its own?
What is the motivation behind this Bill? Like I said, we are not converting the MIE into a university. We are keeping the same structure, council and all this, but we are removing all the representatives or anything to do with the University of Mauritius is being removed, replacing them by one gentleman from the PSSA - God knows who will appoint him or her - and two representatives from the Tertiary Education Commission. Again, it is not mentioned and because it is under the aegis of the Ministry it is not difficult to conclude that it will be the Minister who will appoint them!
There will not be any representative of the University!
I do not know! They are all under the aegis of the Ministry of Education. Like I said, I will not be surprised and it will be legal because they are aegis and there is nothing wrong if the Minister appoints them, but will they be again?
So, we don’t have the structure of a university namely like we have in a university, a Council, a Senate, a Vice Chancellor and all that, and we don’t have a respectable academic Board with qualified professors who were represented by the University of Mauritius and who are going to be removed. Thus, we are doing away completely from the quality control of the University of Mauritius. No independent external control, as mentioned in the Cabinet Decision! Like I said, will they be political nominees or political appointees we don’t know.
The PSSA will be on the Council. On the academic Board, the two representatives of the University of Mauritius are being removed. The full representative of the University is being replaced by two representatives of the Tertiary Education Commission. Who will choose all these representatives? Why are all the professors, the academics of the University removed on that Board?
So, when we look at the composition of the Board, when we look at the ancillary amendment as it is being called which is, in fact, the removal of any connection whatsoever with the University of Mauritius and its replacement by a PSSA representative and…
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Baloomoody: This is what the Bill says! Never, never! Let me read the Bill and come back again. If the hon. Minister wants me to start again I will start again.
What does the Bill say?
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Baloomoody: What does section 11 say? Section 11 says clearly to delete paragraph 6 of the Amendment Bill and, by the way, let me come to section 4 of the Bill which deals with section 6. We are deleting section (b)(i) in Section 6 of the Act. What does section (b)(i) say?
“To make recommendations to the University of Mauritius for the award and conferring of degrees;”
So, no recommendation to the University of Mauritius!
“to award diplomas and certificates (…)”
So, we are removing this. The University of Mauritius will have no say whatsoever with the award of degrees and diplomas and, by the way, I think there should be an amendment to paragraph 4(b). We should add the word ‘to’ before ‘award degrees, diplomas’ in paragraph 4(b) of the Bill which amends paragraph 6. So, here we are doing away with consultation with the University of Mauritius.
When we go further, we look at paragraph 6 of the Bill which deals with section 11 of the principal Act; we are repealing subsection (2) on the Academic Board. Section (2) of the Act reads –
“The Academic Board shall, in consultation with the University of Mauritius through a sub-committee chaired by the Director and with equal representation by the University and the Institute, be responsible for making recommendations to the University of Mauritius for the award of degrees.”
So, we are removing each and every consultation or representation on the Board of the University of Mauritius. This is clear. So, they will act on their own, award degrees on their own without any independent quality control.
Now, what about the quality assurance mechanism? What guarantee do we have in that Bill, when we are amending the Act, of the quality assurance mechanism? The more so, like I have said many times, we are removing completely representative of the University of Mauritius, consultation with the University of Mauritius.
Mr Baloomoody: We are not changing the composition of the Academic Board. We are not upgrading the representatives on the Academic Board.
Ki sa veut dire sa? The Academic Board, we need people with experience in tertiary education, who have worked in universities, who have experience in universities and research. We are doing as if the same what we did with the nine-year schooling. The nineyear schooling was introduced under catimini in the Finance Bill. There was no debate in this House on the nine-year schooling. It has been introduced this year. There has been no debate and consultation by the Minister herself. It started in December and on adjournment matter, I wanted to raise the problem of the nine-year schooling when she made a Press conference - I think it was on 15 or 16 December - where she said: “Now I am going for consultation”. La charrue devant les boeufs!
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Baloomoody: This is what we are having exactly! And today, implementing the nine-year schooling - there are still many controversies and it is still in a mess. And again, when I read the paper of today, what happened yesterday? There was, I think, a seminar where the Minister was present and she rightly stated: Good, she is coming with a Higher Education Bill which will look also at tertiary education, at all the universities and degree institutions. Why don’t we look at that Bill first before rushing into amending the MIE just to give it a degree awarding institution? When we are coming with a Higher Education Bill, we would have an opportunity to look at all the Audit Reports that have been in all our institutions and to see whether the market demands that the MIE should be upgraded into a degree awarding institution. Even at the union’s level, there is no unanimity among the teachers. Let me look at what Mr Manoj Sunassee, membre executif de la Government Secondary Teachers’ Union say-
“(…) indique que les enseignants du secondaire déchainent déjà un diplôme universitaire. C’est extrêmement complexe! Quelle est la nécessité de convertir le MIE en un degree awarding body se demande-t-il ?
So even teachers..
One is enough ! One union!
One welcomes and says, ok! So, it looks like there has not even been consultations with trade unions, no agreement among the stakeholders and we are coming today to amend the MIE, to make it a degree awarding institution.
But what is interesting is the stand of the hon. Minister when she was in the opposition with the MMM - we were sitting there - and after my friend Obeegadoo intervened on behalf of the MMM, when the Bill was debated in the House on 15.5.2012, she stood up and totally agreed with what hon. Obeegadoo said. And what he said –
“Our concern was the independence of that institution.”
The l’Université des Mascareignes Bill, and this is what the hon. Minister has to say –
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Baloomoody: Mr Deputy Speaker, I quote –
“Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, there is no need to set up institutions just for the sake of setting up institutions. It is important for us to optimise resources may it be financial resources or for that matter human resources. It would seem more appropriate to anchor or integrate these institutions either to the UTM, as it is already, or to the University of Mauritius.”
She was then against setting up other institutions and we were setting a university!
She was against setting up another institution when according to her, 3 years ago, that was her stand. No need for further institutions! No need for further universities! And what we are doing today, we are making an institution become a university. This is what she had to say -
“Let me take the case of India. Let’s take the case of the University of Delhi. We have been told earlier, I think, by hon. Dr. Bunwaree that we have to ensure that students manage to get into universities. The hon. Minister mentioned that we are already working at full capacity at the UTM and at the UoM, but the idea of affiliation does not mean that you have to move to Réduit or move to UTM. You can still remain in Pamplemousses or Camp Levieux and the institution can operate under the aegis of these universities. I’ll take the case of the University of Delhi in India. The University of Delhi has got more than 79 institutions affiliated to the University of Delhi. Let’s look at the size of Delhi. It is around 600 square miles, less than Mauritius, but it has a population of 16.7 million, 14 times that of our Mauritian population. Still they manage to work with all these different colleges and institutions under the aegis of the University of Delhi.”
So, for her, there was no point as in Delhi you have many institutions which run university courses, but it is the University of Delhi, the supervising body, the quality controller who gives the degree. And today, we are moving fast before any audit and when know we are coming with a Higher Education Bill which will look at all the tertiary education. So my appeal to the hon. Minister is that there is no rush, there is no need. There will be no punishment caused to anybody. Those who are taking the courses at the MIE will still be granted their certificate by the University of Mauritius. We are not stopping anything. Let us have a proper discussion on our tertiary education, let’s have a proper audit of all the institutions, local public institutions providing degree, then we decide whether the MIE will be an institution.
And the last question is: if today we are talking about the MIE, tomorrow will it be the MGI? And why not the MGI? So, we just want to please I don’t know who! If today it is the MIE, so why not the MGI tomorrow? Because the MGI itself runs courses today and the certificates are issued, I think, from the University of Mauritius. Why? This is why we should have a holistic approach and not piecemeal. Today, we look at the whole institution. Tomorrow, we would add this one because this one pleases us? For this one, we like the Director, for this one, we are happy with the Chairman, we give him this facility. No, this is not the approach we should take with such an important issue of education.
Let’s stop that today, let her come with the Information Bill, let’s have a proper audit, a proper debate on all the institutions providing degree, then we decide whether the MGI, the MIE or which other institutions should grant university degree because from my information, most of those who are attending courses at university level prefer to have a certificate like all of us who have been to universities with the heading of a university on it not the heading of an institution.
I have done, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir.
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Rutnah!
Mr S. Rutnah (Third Member for Piton & Rivière du Rempart): Thank you
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. I am not going to say that we have rushed into this Bill today, but it is the right time for Mauritius to have such a Bill presented in the House.
Mr Deputy Speaker Sir, let’s look at the history of education in this country, specially before 1973 when the MIE Bill was brought to this House by Mr Jomadar as my very abled and learned friend, hon. Baloomoody, pointed out. Before 1973, only a few privileged were able to go to universities. And it was back in 1815, a man called Jean Lebrun set up the first school in Mauritius where working class people could send their children to that school in order to get education and time passed by. We know the setting up of the Royal college.
Who was going to Royal College in those days?
Not on those days, I am talking about the eighteenth.
There were only a few privileged who used to go to Royal College in Curepipe and then later on to Port Louis. And then time passed by when sons of the labourers of the sugar cane fields as well were able to join Royal College in Port Louis and Curepipe. In the days when I am talking about Jean Lebrun and thereafter only a few privileged used to go to Royal College in Curepipe and Port Louis. Then the University of Mauritius was set up. The University was set up to provide free education to students in Mauritius. I am setting up the background at the moment because hon. Baloomoody has said a lot for 50 minutes.
Now, I am not going to enter into a cross conversation from a sitting position.
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Rutnah: If we look, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, at the same debate to which hon. Baloomoody referred to - but now he is leaving the House - I will also be referring to the same part of Hansard. The mover of the Bill then started by saying a number of things about amendment and then thereafter he said the following –
‘Hon. Members, will recall that in the four-year plan for social and economic development, it is proposed to set up an Institute of Education having responsible for the following activities and I am going to paraphrase –
(i) secondary teacher training;
(ii) the provision of in-service training courses for teachers;
(iii) the organising and conducting of seminars on pedagogical topics particularly on methodology and the use of audio visual learning aids;
(iv) guidance and advice to the Teachers Training College in the training of primary school teachers particularly on matters of curriculum development, methodology and audio visual aids their construction and use;
(v) the Institute will eventually contain the nucleus of the Mauritius Examination Syndicate, which syndicate took birth soon later in years;
(vi) the Institute of Education will be an appropriate body to help and guide educational, mass media programmes such as educational radio and television;
(vii) undertake studies into curriculum reform and preparation of syllabi and to make available professional advice to the Ministry of Education and teachers on these matters;
(viii) the Institute will provide administrative training for principals of secondary schools, primary inspectors and head teachers of both primary and secondary schools, and
(ix) undertake research work’.
This was back in 1973. So, from 1973 onwards, the MIE has conducted all these activities. Never on the press have we heard any criticism addressed against the MIE on all the activities it has conducted since 1973. Never any trade union has complained. Never any politician either from this side of the House or the other side, be it whatever Government has come into power, has ever questioned the work that the MIE has done throughout the years.
Now, I am also going to refer to the same paragraph that hon. Baloomoody referred to. Before that paragraph, there is one crucial one that hon. Baloomoody did not refer to and I read part of it –
“The Institute, in fact, primarily answers the needs of the Ministry in respect of preprimary, primary and secondary education whereas university deals mainly with higher and further education in development fields.”
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Rutnah: At that time, hon. Jomadar - I don’t know what party he was in - he had some wisdom, some degree of intelligence to express what he wanted because at the time we were still a nation in the making. At the time we were an independent nation, but we were not independent so to say financially, economically. We were only independent for the sake of it. We were still in a country where we were trying to make things work. He started it. He sows the seed and now the time is ripe to give this institution its full credit, its value, its credential, its recognition because it is not only recognised in Mauritius as the hon. Minister pointed out, but in Australia, Canada and many other countries where holders of diploma of the Institute have found career and they are excelling. Had we had not bogus universities in this country? Those who have left! We have suffered brain drain. Those who have left could have been here if we would have been setting up proper institutions unlike EIILM - I don’t know what other University was set up.
Earlier on, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, we heard about students who have failed CPE, who have not attained with credits in English, French or Maths at School Certificate level.
We heard hon. Baloomoody putting it fairly and squarely on the competence and on the back of those teachers. But who is responsible for lowering down the standard of education in this country? Who? Deliberate so as to allow those who previously would not have been able to read for higher school certificates, those who were not allowed previously to go to Universities were going there so that those bogus ones can feed on the loans and advances that those poor parents were taking in order to send them to EIILM University.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, coming to the paragraph that hon. Baloomoody referred to, that is why, after careful study of the function of the Institute and after taking the advice of
Mr Dodd from the Overseas Development Administration - Remember what I said earlier on. We were an independent country for the sake of it, but really speaking, we were not financially and economically independent; we were still under the control of the colonial regime because we had to refer to this man, Mr Dodd, of the Overseas Development Administration and of UNESCO -, it was found preferable to set up the Institute not as a school of the University, but as a separate institution, a corporate body under the general supervision of the Ministry of Education and working in close collaboration with the University of Mauritius.
Since 1973, a lot of water has run under the bridge. We are, today, a nation which is economically independent. We are, today, a nation that has grown up. The Mauritius Institute of Education has not awarded degrees, but was always empowered to our diplomas.
If we look at the Act, by virtue of section 6, which deals with the function of the
institution, section 6(2) (b) (ii) states –
“(2) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), the function of the
Institute shall be to –
(b) (ii) award diplomas and certificates;”
Now, since 1973, the Mauritius Institute of Education has been awarding diplomas and certificates to teachers. Why on earth? Why today? When we are a nation that can stand on our feet, why cannot we allow that Institute to issue degrees and give it full recognition just like we have got the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Indian Institute of Technology, the Madras Institute of Technology? It is very wrong to say that those who only obtain a degree from a University is the correct degree. That is very wrong. It is very narrow-minded. Today, when we talk about education, we have to apply a wider margin of appreciation of the education system in which we live.
I still remember, when I was at college, my teachers used to say - because in those days at schools and colleges, we were not only given academic text books to read, but we used to get educated from our parents at home and at school -, “Education starts from a mother’s womb and ends to the tomb. And the more you learn, the more you don’t know how much you know, because an intelligent person is he who doesn’t know how much he knows.”
So, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, today, when we speak about education, we cannot just limit it to the extent that it is its only academic, it is only professional, A+, B+ or whatever pluses. What is the point? I have seen it. Let me say something very truthful. I know doctors, lawyers, engineers who have got good educational background; A+, college degrees, university degrees.
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Rutnah: When hon. Baloomoody was speaking, I was listening! So, at least, they should extend the courtesy!
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Rutnah: This is the relevance! Some people have gone to universities and got good grades, but they have not learnt basic manners, and this is what I was coming to!
This is what I was coming to! Once, I took one of my constituents to the hospital, and when I saw the way the doctor was speaking to that old lady, I asked myself, “Is this guy an educated guy?” But, then, I realised that, despite all his credentials, he did not learn manners at home.
Similarly, I have seen judges, lawyers, magistrates, engineers, accountants, and quite a lot. Basic…
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Rutnah: Some of you might think that what I am talking is not relevant, but here I am speaking about...
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Rutnah: ... education, because hon. Baloomoody opened a can of worms and I have to deal with it.
If they restrict education to only academics and professionals, then I have to deal with it.
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Rutnah: And if you look at the debate in 1973, it was a very educated debate, as my friend, hon. Lesjongard, pointed out, because the press was gagged in those days. If you read the intervention of the then Leader of Opposition, Sookdeo Bissoondoyal, then you will learn, then you will know how the press was gagged and was not able to say things against them. They were all the time talking about the freedom of expression, but today, at least, Mr Sunassee, the trade unionist, was allowed to speak on the press, Le Mauricien, which hon. Baloomoody quoted.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir…
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Ameer Meea!
Mr Rutnah: I am on the Bill and I will always be on the Bill, because if those who sit in the Opposition do not like the argument that I am pursuing, it does not mean that my points are not good. I am within the premise of the Bill.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, we are concerned about only four clauses in this Bill, and by virtue of these four clauses, what are we doing? At section 6, we say that we are repealing subsection 2 (b) of the principal Act, and the hon. Minister, quite rightly, introducing a new paragraph to this Bill and saying that it will read as follows –
“Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), the functions of the Institute shall be, amongst other things, to award degrees, diplomas, and certificates, whether on its own or jointly, with the Tertiary Education Institution.”
And this deals with the criticism raised by hon. Baloomoody, when he says that we are getting away with quality assurance and excellence and that when the Cabinet decision was made to upgrade MIE into a degree awarding body, associate with external awarding body, quality assurance, independent Bill doing away with it…
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Rutnah: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, in relation to the criticism of the Cabinet, let me remind hon. Baloomoody and everybody in this House…
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Rutnah: He is so happy!
He is so happy! He reminds me of Thomas Hardy.
Happiness is an occasional episode in a general drama of pain! I know that it is very painful to sit in the Opposition but, at least, today I will make them happy!
The main object of this Bill is to upgrade the Mauritius Institute of Education into a degree awarding institution and to make provision for matters ancillary thereto.
So, this is the object and there is this phrase – “(…) matters ancillary thereto” which deals with the criticisms of hon. Baloomoody.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am not going to delve into irrelevancy. I am not going to talk about University of Mauritius, University of Technology or their objectives, their Boards etc. For the purpose of this debate, it is completely irrelevant. I am not going to deal with it. Now, the question was asked: is it going to be a recognised degree?
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the existing award of the Mauritius Institute of Education has always been a recognised award. Now, what difference does it really make when you upgrade that institute into a degree awarding institution? A diploma course is two years. A degree course is three years. One extra year in that institution, is that going to make the degree a second-class degree, so to say?
Those who teach at the Mauritius Institute of Education are very professionally and academically trained lecturers; they have been lecturing for many years. They have got their qualifications, some have a first degree, a second degree or even a PhD; some of them are even professors. And you are going to come and say in the House that an institution of that calibre that is going to appoint its own degree is not going to be recognised?
It remind me of 1993 when the law was changed in England and Wales. In those days there were lots of polytechnics around in England and Wales. In 1993, the then Government came up with an Act to allow polytechnics to be given the status of Universities. All those universities which were polytechnics before or are doing equally good as established universities, and I still remember - those days I was a student in London - the amount of criticisms that that Act was facing, but eventually, everybody realised that it was a good move. And Tony Blair, in his manifesto for his first election, he said: “education, education and education”.
Why? Because he knew that those polytechnics that were transferred into universities, their degrees were equally valid as established universities and their graduates were more favourably considered by employers to be employed than established universities.
Now, coming to the textbooks’ business, everybody knows that in any Educational Institute we have got the Academic Board and then we have got other managerial aspects of that university. So, who is in charge if the audit bureau criticised the publication of the textbook? It is not the Board of examiners of the MIE which is responsible for publishing textbooks, it is a different department. If ever there is any incompetence in that department, then that is a matter for the administrative aspect of the University, of the Institute to take them to task. But don’t blame those who are responsible to assess students and to decide whether a student would be awarded a degree or not. Now, can we say MIE is a success story? Of course, we can! I stand here with pride to say: “Yes, MIE is a success story”.
Why? Members of my family have been to MIE and graduated and today they are now teaching. In my Constituency, I know of a number of teachers who have graduated at the MIE and are teaching. In my Constituency, I know people of poor background who have been to MIE; they have graduated and went abroad making their career and making their living. Am I going to say that MIE today is not a success story? No! That would be wrong.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, we have also other amendments that have been brought. We have, for example, Section (10) of the Principal Act which deals with the Council - I am going to be very quick so that I can conclude. It is normal and appropriate that subsection (g) has been repealed and replaced by representative of the Private Secondary Education Authority because there is no more economic planning in Mauritius. So, this part is in anyway caduc, as we say in French.
In relation to the academic Board, quite properly, subsection 2 of section 11 is proposed to be repealed and there is subsection 3 where the award of degrees, diplomas and certificates, the word ‘degree’ has been inserted so as to give power to the council to award degrees. Subsection 4 paragraph (d) repealed and replaced by two representatives of Tertiary Education Institute.
Every time when we get these kinds of clauses, we tend to get criticisms. Why representatives from the Ministry? Is he independent or is he not independent?
Does that mean that I have not seen any piece of legislation? When the MMM was in power, when the Parti travailliste was in power, when they put these kinds of clauses, then it is independent, when we put these kinds of clause, then we are not independent! So, it is wrong to say these kinds of things in this House.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I have made my point. I am going to say this in conclusion, when criticisms were addressed, who is going to exercise control, quality assurance? Let me remind everybody in the House that we have the Tertiary Education Commission in this country. Let me read from the website of the Tertiary Education Commission which I have pulled up on my tablet. It says the following –
“The Tertiary Education Commission has, as objects, to promote, plan, develop and coordinate post-secondary education in Mauritius and to implement an overrearching regulatory framework to achieve high international quality. It also has responsibility to allocate government funds to the Tertiary Education Institutions under its purview and to ensure accountability and optimum use of resources.”
Accountability and optimum use of resources!
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, when we look at the Budget Speech 2016, we owe it to the then Minister of Finance and Economic Development and we owe it to the current Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.
Who is still the Minister of Finance and Economic Development. Look at what he said in relation to education at paragraph 239 of the Budget Speech –
“Madam Speaker, I now come to Education which has been and will continue to be the foundation of our success as a nation.”
And I am not going to read any further from this. I only want to highlight –
“(…) now come to Education which has been and will continue to be the foundation of our success as a nation.”
And this piece of legislation demonstrates that the foundation of the success of our nation, as a grown up nation in the field of education, has already kick-started and that we are grown up to such an extent that our children tomorrow will be able to go to the Mauritius Institute of Education and obtain a degree and we owe these kinds of development in our country to our children who are growing up for tomorrow.
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Mrs Boygah!
Mrs D. Boygah (Second Member for Vieux Grand Port & Rose Belle): Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. At the very outset, let me congratulate the hon. Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research for bringing this amendment Bill on MIE to the House to upgrade the
MIE into a degree awarding institute which was not so previously.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, this Government has been assigned the mission of bringing changes in many spheres which are of national concern. The education sector is one of those fields which needed a complete remise à jour, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. One of the major steps taken to bring in a comprehensive change in our education sector is the introduction of the much awaited Nine-Year Schooling which is not done in catimini, as stated by hon. Baloomoody. The CPE, cauchemar pour enfants, is dead and well buried, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. But this is one aspect of the reform.
Many institutions under the aegis of the Ministry of Education will undoubtedly need to readjust themselves with the ongoing process of change. The legal frame, in which such institution operates, needs to be reviewed in order to be in line with these changes.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, founded in the 1973, the MIE was entrusted with the responsibility for teachers’ training of secondary schools, educators, curriculum development and research, as stated by all the hon. Members of this Assembly, who have spoken before me. It assumes full responsibility for all training programmes for the primary sector in the early 1980s and for the pre-primary sector a decade later which is very much later.
In 2010, the MIE was given the entire responsibility for curriculum development, development of textbooks and teaching materials as well as digitalisation of the curriculum as well stated.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the MIE is a major education institution which plays a preponderant role in providing teachers with training and has till now contributed positively in the education sector at large, will it be at the primary level, pre-primary level and the secondary level.
We, Members of this National Assembly, are products of those teachers trained by the famous MIE institution as well stated by hon. Rutnah. We, ourselves, have relatives, parents. I, myself, have my in-laws who have been trained and today, they have been very well placed in different institutions with a diploma from the MIE upgraded to a degree course.
The world recognises and applause our dexterity in mastering English and French, this is with the help of the MIE. To keep up with this trend and with the introduction of more subjects as from the primary school level, our teachers will be needing more appropriate training to stay in line with the revolution, which is in March in this vital sector, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir.
The actual MIE Act, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, which regulates the Mauritius Institute of Education dates back to 1973. With so many changes presently being introduced in our education sector, it is obvious that the MIE needs to upgrade itself in order to provide teachers with appropriate training in new fields of education. Teaching staff is a major component of education and, of course, therefore, cannot afford to lag behind, Deputy Speaker, Sir. Teachers need more than certificates and diplomas to meet with the legitimate aspirations of the demanding public for a more efficient education system.
The MIE, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, has till now restricted itself into awarding only certificates and diplomas and these certificates and diplomas have made it a delay in awarding degrees to students. It was dependent on the University of Mauritius for the award and conferring of degrees. Henceforth, with the present amendment, the MIE will become a full-fledged Tertiary Education Institution. It will empower to run a panoply of new courses leading to a degree. Teachers will thus have the opportunity to upgrade themselves with new pedagogies in the context of the reform in the education sector. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the MIE will not shut its door though for a collaboration with other Tertiary Education Institution such as the University of Mauritius.
Section 6 (a) of the proposed MIE Act, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, provides the MIE to award degrees, I quote –
“award degrees, diplomas and certificates, whether on its own or jointly, with any tertiary education institution.”
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, it is with great sadness that I have to say that we have recently witnessed political motivated interventions of some Members of the National Assembly. I do not want to pinpoint anybody, but I hope that whenever we have the issue of education brought at the National Assembly, all will contribute positively to the debate, but I don’t think it is like that till now.
Education is the only element which will enhance the quality of our human resources, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. Total women emancipation depends on the quality of education given to the folk women, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. In fact, when a woman succeeds, the whole society benefits and this comes from the great late Abdul Kalam. The abolition of the rat race in star schools comes to an end and along this, the ill of private tuition. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, it is bound to diminish until its complete demise. It will be up to the parents, mainly the mother, to monitor the education of their children.
M. le président, je vois dans ces amendements apportés au MIE Act, une volonté réelle du gouvernement de cerner tous les problèmes et d’y apporter des remèdes. Tous les paramètres sont minutieusement étudiés. La réforme de notre système d’éducation est une opportunité aux femmes de se positionner à l’égalité dans la famille. J’invite les mamans à s’intéresser au nouveau sujet fraichement introduit afin d’apporter leur contribution à l’éducation de leurs enfants.
I am most agreeable to the amendment, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, with regard to the composition of the Academic Board of the MIE. As stated, the Board will now comprise two representatives of tertiary institution instead of three representatives from the University of Mauritius. The inclusion of a representative from the Private Secondary School Education Authority instead of one from the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development is more appropriate and welcome.
I will not be long, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, but to end up, I wish to inform this House that this Government has understood the legitimate aspiration of the parents for a better education of their offspring. To end up, the MIE (Amendment) Bill goes in line in this direction. Undoubtedly, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, we are all embarked to live up to the trust of the population which has been laid on us. One very sad thing that I have noted from the speech of hon. Baloomoody is when it comes to the recognition, as very well stated by hon. Rutnah, of the degree courses. A certificate, a diploma or a degree is not just a piece of paper, it is the education system, the pedagogy that is learnt and transmitted to our children in the Mauritian society. If certificates and diplomas are recognised in countries like Australia and Canada, why not our degrees? Our degrees are not just a piece of paper but very well recognised as it is from the University of Mauritius or the UTM or any other universities.
With these words, I fully support the amendment to this Bill and I wish to congratulate again the hon. Minister of Education.
Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir.
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Ramful!
Mr D. Ramful (Third Member for Mahebourg & Plaine Magnien): Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am not going to answer to my good friend hon. Rutnah because he has made a long discourse about education except from talking about the Bill. He has been criticising the Labour Party and if I am going to talk about the contribution of the Labour Party in the field of education then we will not finish today. I might start with free education, with the setting up of the University of Mauritius and all that…
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Ramful: So, we will not be finishing today. Let me go to the amendment that is being proposed…
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Ramful: We all in the House, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, want the best education for our children. Parents strive very hard so that their children get the best education and it is the duty and responsibility of Government, of the State, through the educators in our schools and colleges that our children are imparted with the right and proper knowledge. This cannot be done save and except if we have the proper mechanism that has been set up so that our educators get the proper pedagogical training and the right academic knowledge.
I do not doubt the good intention of the Minister. I will not say that we are making a step backward but I will definitely say that we are deviating from the objective with these amendments and I will say why. My friends, hon. Rutnah and hon. Baloomoody made reference to excerpts of the intervention when the MIE Bill was passed. I also will refer to the same part that they referred to. We have to understand when the MIE was set up, there was a reason why MIE was kept under the aegis of the Ministry of Education separate from the University of Mauritius and this is reflected in what the mover of the Bill at that time said and I will repeat it –
“The Institute, in fact, primarily answers the needs of the Ministry in respect of pre-primary, primary and secondary education whereas the University of Mauritius deals mainly with higher and further education in development fields. This is why it was found preferable to set up the Institute not as a school of the University but as a separate institution, a corporate body under the general supervision of the Ministry of Education(…)”
What are we doing with this amendment today? We are now giving the responsibility of awarding a degree to the MIE. So, we are changing the function of the MIE. This is why this question should be debated. Is the MIE - as it is under the control of Government, with all the representatives of Government sitting on the Board - the proper body to award a degree? We owe it to about 5000 to 6000 educators especially those from the primary sector because with this amendment the educators from the primary sector will be allowed to take degree courses that will lead to Bachelors in Education. They are entitled to know whether MIE is the appropriate body to give such degrees. The parents sitting at home are entitled to know whether those educators would be given the right pedagogical training and the right knowledge that would eventually be imparted to their kids.
Now let us see, the Minister made reference to the quality audit report that was conducted by the Tertiary Education Commission.
Yes, that was in 2013. So, the hon. Minister was right, it was recommended in the report that the MIE becomes a degree awarding body. But in what context? What changes should be brought to the MIE? Let me highlight those changes. I am reading from the report –
“The position of MIE as an arm of Government providing teacher education and related services is now unusual internationally although not historically unusual as many autonomous teacher education providers started in a similar position to that of MIE. The Panel noted that many stakeholders such as staff unions are content with, or even actively favour, the relationship between MIE and MOEHR as they appear to see this as providing an avenue to bring influence to bear on MIE or the Mauritian school system more generally.”
This is what they say and I am highlighting this, very important –
“This close relationship is not in itself undesirable, but it carries dangers for academic freedom and the autonomy of operations that are the hallmark of higher education institutions if the controlling authority does not provide enough flexibility to management in how the institution is managed.”
So, you see this report conducted by the Ministry of Education itself, is saying that the MIE should have its autonomy. This is what they say. They also propose that amendments be brought to the Act. What was suggested? What kind of amendments should be brought? The panel believes that the current review of the Act needs to take careful account of the principle that clearly distinguishes management functions from those of academic governance to lay down sound foundations of operation of the MIE in the immediate and longer terms. It would be highly desirable for the new legislation to take account of international trends and also the relationship with local partner universities to ensure that the MIE is put on a sound footing for its future development as a higher education institution.
Now, let us look at the international trend. Before I come to the international trend, I am going to refer to Singapore, leading references in the field of education - Singapore, Finland and the UK - in a minute. But let me say it right from the outset, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, that I am all for giving our educators, especially the primary educators - as they are called now - the opportunities to pursue higher studies. Not only primary educators, if we refer to Finland and Singapore, pre-primary educators should obtain a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Learning before they are eligible for the jobs in pre-primary schools. I am all for this. My question is: is the MIE the appropriate body to grant the award degree? This is my problem. When we look at the international trend, - let me refer to Singapore - there is what they call the National Institute of Education. It is an autonomous Institute and it is part of a University which is independent, the Nanyang Technological University. There is no Government control. That Institute is responsible for training and it provides academic knowledge to the educators in Singapore. You know what, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir? This institute is ranked 10th in the world and 2nd in Asia by the QS World University Rankings in the subject of education in 2015. The same would apply in the UK. My learned friend, hon. Baloomoody, made reference to UCL. There are also other universities like Brighton, Reading, Stoke and they are independent universities providing education to educators in those countries.
Now, why do we need this autonomy? It is simple because when the awarding body is independent, when it is autonomous, when it is self-regulated, then it earns respect and recognition. So, after what I have heard, I have doubts as to whether the degree that is going to be awarded by the MIE is going to be internationally recognised or not. Because I am told that with the diploma that is being offered, this is not recognised internationally and to get a place in international universities to pursue further studies, apparently this is not recognised. I wish to be enlightened on this.
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Ramful: Now, let me also refer to the independence of the institution. I would like to make an analogy with how the University of Mauritius works, what are the mechanisms that are in place at the University of Mauritius which ensure the autonomy of the University of Mauritius. When we look at the statute, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, which provides for the Council of the University of Mauritius, the Council consists of the ProChancellor as Chairperson, the Vice-Chancellor, the Dean of Faculty, elected representatives of the academic staff of the University, elected representatives of the non-academic staff of the University and elected representatives of the students of the University. All these persons form the Council and the Council manages the University. When you look at the body which is responsible for awarding the degrees, diplomas etc., that is, the Senate, the Senate consists of the Vice-Chancellor, the Dean of Faculties and the members who are also composed of the Director of Quality Assurance. The Director of Quality Assurance also sits in the Senate. My friend, hon. Baloomoody, was talking about quality assurance.
I will come to the composition of the Board of the MIE in a minute. Three full professors elected university-wise, three members from professional commercial and industrial sectors. When we look at the composition of the Senate, we see the autonomy of the Senate. We see the experience of the people sitting in the Senate. There is transparency in the election of the members sitting in the Senate, but when we make a comparison with the MIE, what do we see? I am referring here to the Academic Board. The Academic Board shall consist of the Director who shall be the Chairperson of the Academic Board - and the director is appointed by the Prime Minister – and such representatives of the staff of the Institute as may be appointed by the Council. The Council is composed of representatives of different Ministries. Government control it. That Council would appoint the representatives of the staff, the librarian and two representatives of the University of Mauritius. Now, we are doing away ...
Yes, there is an amendment. Let me come to this amendment. There is a problem with this amendment. We have many tertiary education institutions. There are four of them. One will be eligible to form part of the Board. Who is going to elect that one person? Nothing is provided in the Bill? Who is going to elect? Is it going to be the Minister? Is it going to be the Tertiary Education Commission? There is a problem about the election. Let us look at the amendment. So, what is being proposed in Clause 6, paragraph (c) -
“(c) in subsection (4), by repealing paragraph (d) and replacing it by the following paragraph –
(d) 2 representatives of tertiary education institutions;”
So, we are doing away with the two representatives of the University of Mauritius and we are replacing it by two representatives of the tertiary education institutions.
There are four tertiary education institutions. How are they going to be elected?
This is my question. It is not provided in the amendment. Is it going to be the Minister? Is it going to be the tertiary education institutions themselves? I will wait for the answer of the Minister.
As you can see, when we look at the composition of the academic Board which is going to be responsible for awarding the degree, we see that there is a lack of people having the necessary experience. We don’t see the Director of Quality Assurance. So, it is mainly controlled by Government. This is why I say Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, that there are doubts about the independence of that body and doubts about the degree that the body will be awarding.
There is one last aspect which I would wish the Minister to enlighten the educators especially those from the primary sector because with this amendment, I am right to say that there are about 4,000 to 5,000 primary educators who would be entitled to follow courses up to degree level.
Now, there is the Manraj’s Errors and Omission Report which provides for the alignment of primary educators who have obtained diplomas to the secondary educators’ diplomas. Are the primary educators, with a degree in B.Ed., salaries also going to be aligned with the secondary educators? I don’t know. Shall we wait for the PRB? This is another issue. I think I have been to the point. I have not made discourse about education. I have raised my qualms, my concerns. I would wish to have the answers of the Minister on this issue.
Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir.
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Rampertab
Mr R. Rampertab (Second Member for Flacq & Bon Accueil): Mr Deputy
Speaker, Sir, let me start by congratulating the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research for coming up with this legislation. It was indeed long overdue. The reforms in education that the present Government has initiated, namely, the nine-year schooling have a strong focus on quality education and overall development of every child.
The current reforms ensure that there are no push outs from our system. No other Government could achieve that. That is why we have to empower our educators. It was a real tragedy to know that every year around 25% of a cohort of children failed at CPE level. They are pushed out of the mainstream. Thanks to the reform of the present Government, the learners will have the opportunity to progress further and in a far better environment. Clearly Mauritius has won the battle of providing access to education to every child in the Republic of Mauritius.
Therefore, the focus should now be on winning the battle or providing quality education at all levels. Quality education cannot exist without quality teachers. I hereby express my sincere gratitude towards the nearly 6,000 primary school educators and 8,400 secondary school educators who are working hard every day.
We need to give them the opportunities to upgrade their qualifications. The quality of teachers and the continuing professional education and training remain central to the achievement of quality education. Therefore, it is important that the MIE be given the powers to award degrees. This will help the vast majority of the primary school educators holding a diploma to acquire degree and why not a Master’s degree.
Most of the educators working at secondary school level have a degree in their respective field. They will have an opportunity to acquire additional qualification in pedagogy. Learning to teach is vital, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. For instance, someone may be very good in maths, but may not be always be in a position to transmit the knowledge to others. Teaching goes beyond writing formulae and texts on the whiteboard, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. Teaching must help our children to develop the creative and critical thinking, inclination and capacity, the socio-emotional intelligence and cross cultural sensitivity and intercultural competences. It must also help them discover what interests them; what picks their curiosity and what skill they will want to learn and master.
Therefore, educators must be empowered so that they can help our children to learn how to learn. Learning to learn is vital else all techniques such as rote learning will continue to persist. Therefore, MIE and its staff should be given the necessary tools and powers that will enable them to empower our educators. And this legislation will definitely help in doing so.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, assessment and evaluation is another field where advanced training is required. Both formative and summative assessment strategies must be learned. In this era of technology, the strategies are evolving. MIE will have the opportunity to embed such strategies in their courses.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, in several cases there is an over obsession of grades and outcomes rather than that of the process of learning. This runs counter to the intent of what we seek to achieve. In other words teachers must find the balance between what can be measured such as grades and what can only be observed such as values and character. As Einstein once said –
“Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.”
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, one of the vital questions to ask is why we need this proposed legislation, why MIE cannot continue as it has been since 1973. MIE is already providing B.Ed., M.Ed. and doctoral programmes. So, why do we need this legislation? The answer is clear, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. This legislation provides the powers that MIE was lacking in designing its courses. Currently, MIE has to abide by the rules and regulations of the institutions awarding the degrees. Unfortunately, the awarding institutions do not often offer qualifications in education themselves.
Courses in education, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, have their own specificities. MIE has to surrender to the whims and caprices of other partners. For instance, there are many modules in the Bachelor of Education Degree and the Master’s in Education Programme that are assessed by other means such as portfolios rather than paper-based examinations. MIE should have the flexibility to design the most suitable assessment strategies for its courses.
This legislation also aims at empowering our educators who have the critical responsibility of sustaining the development of our nation through the development of every child. Educators will have to continue to mould our students as Mauritians and not to assume that it is an identity that is formed at birth.
Educators are the best people to explain to our children what it means to be a Mauritian and why every child must contribute significantly in fashioning a vibrant Republic of Mauritius.
The authentic sense of attachment to Mauritius will definitely help shape young minds in powerful ways. Unfortunately, such topics of citizenship education cannot be offered as a subject. It must be embedded in the curriculum. MIE should, therefore, have the flexibility to design its curriculum at levels, including at degree level. In this context, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, those who do not have Master’s Degree can acquire it.
In fact, according to Statistics Mauritius, in the year 2016, 70%, that is, 5,824 out of 8,354 of teaching staff at secondary school level had a first degree, while only 1,149 out of 8,354 had a postgraduate qualification, that is, only 14%. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, why should we encourage the educators to have higher qualifications? First of all, the teaching and learning processes are evolving rapidly. The advancement in technology is fuelling this evolution. Therefore, all the educators need to have higher qualifications and learn new teaching methods.
Moreover, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, it is good to compare with Finland, which is recognised as having one of the best education systems in the world. In fact, according to the Finnish National Agency for Education, teachers in Finland are highly trained. In general education, all teachers must have a Master’s Degree. In vocational education, teachers should have at least a Bachelor’s Degree. Members of the teaching and guidance staff within daycare centres generally possess a
Bachelor’s Degree; even pre-primary teachers in schools hold a Master’s Degree.
Guidance Counsellors in basic and upper secondary education and training have a Master’s Degree in Guidance Counselling studies. Special needs teachers hold a Master’s Degree, with special pedagogy as the main subject or a teaching qualification, including Special Needs Teachers Studies. Teachers at polytechnics are required to have either a Master’s or a postgraduate licence, degree, depending on their position. They must also complete pedagogical studies. At most levels of the education, teachers are required to participate in in-service training every year.
So, the Finnish system, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, provides one of the effective formulas to have the best education system and highly qualified teachers. Therefore, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, MIE should be given the necessary powers to our degrees and other related qualifications. Thus, MIE will have the flexibility of integrating teacher training and pedagogical training integrated into a Master’s Programme.
Mauritius can, in fact, become an important provider of teacher training in this part of the world. MIE can partner with institutions like the Open University of Mauritius to offer teacher training in the region through distance education and e-learning. Mauritius, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, has the potential of training the educators of the countries in our region. Africa itself lacks millions of well-trained educators. Sustainable Development Goal 4 cannot be achieved without a substantial increase in qualified teachers.
According to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, to achieve universal primary education by 2030, the demand for teachers is expected to rise to 25.8 million, and one of the top priorities of UNESCO remains teacher recruitment, training and retention. UNESCO presents teachers as the single most influential and powerful force for equity, access and quality in education.
Mr Deputy Speaker Sir, the world today needs well-trained teachers. The current reforms in education will surely transform our education system in one of the best ones in our region, and this legislation can play a pivotal role in making Mauritius a teacher-training hub in the region. Recently, at the World Education Forum in 2015, commonly referred to as the Incheon Declaration, UNESCO, together with 160 countries, including Mauritius, which was present, agreed to “ensure that teachers and educators are empowered, adequately recruited, well-trained, professionally qualified, motivated and supported within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems.” Therefore, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, we are bound to provide an efficient and effective system in which our teachers and educators can be empowered. This legislation, indeed, helps to achieve this.
What will the next 50 years be like and for what kind of future will we have to prepare our students? How to ensure that Mauritius reaches greater heights in the globalised world connected tightly by technology, economic, cultural and people exchanges?
Mr Deputy Speaker Sir, next year, we will be celebrating the 50 years of Independence of our country. This also means that we will be embarking on the next 50 years of our journey in building a nation. Undoubtedly, educators will continue to play a vital role in shaping our national destiny. As in the past decades, the human factor will be decisive in the future decades, especially for a country that is not endowed with rich national resources. If we want high quality human capital to shape a vibrant nation, then we need to prepare for it today. This means building a highly qualified pool of educators. A competent and resourceful educator base will contribute to have exceptional students; will contribute meaningfully to make Mauritius economically vibrant and relevant, safe and
The proposed amendment will surely make the quality of our teachers as well as learning and teaching process exceptional. It will provide up-to-date training to teachers so as to empower them to design the best learning environments and learning experiences. Finally, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, this legislation does not debar other providers from offering qualification in the field of education.
Let me conclude by saying that educators and quality teaching influence the destiny of individuals, families, communities and the nation. It is a complex and important profession. Therefore, we should spare no effort in giving them the best training and professional development opportunities. Teaching is also the ultimate learning profession. With continuous professional development, educators become a running stream of fresh water that nurtures and grows everything around them. If we want our educators to continue to learn and pass on the love of learning to our children, we must give the necessary powers, the best environment to those who teach our educators how to teach.
Finally, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would say that we, Mauritians, are a hungry education nation and I am sure not many people realise that about 96% of the population are literate. It is our duty as legislators to empower our institution such as the MIE, the University of Mauritius, the UTM, so that they can provide the best education to our next generation who will replace us here, in this august Assembly and probably do better than some of us here.
Thank you very much.
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Mrs Monty!
Mrs M. C. Monty (Third Member for Port Louis North & Montagne Longue):
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I wish first of all to thank you for allowing me to intervene on this Bill, and I also want to congratulate the hon. Minister of Education for this present Bill as it comes at the right time to answer to a long awaited need.
In fact, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, when the Mauritius Institute of Education was setup in 1973, it was then itself a laudable enterprise as its main aim was to provide training to all those joining the teaching profession and also to teachers already in the sector, but lacking training in pedagogy, thus the MIE has been offering training on a full-time basis and on a part-time basis, and also has been offering pre-service and in-service courses to teachers at both primary and secondary levels.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, during its long existence, now 44 years, the MIE has proved to be le berceau de la formation for so many people who constitute the wide community of teachers at all levels, be it at pre-primary, primary and secondary level.
However, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, it is good to put into perspective the history of the Mauritius Institute of Education, mostly known as the MIE, since its opening in 1973, when State colleges, known at that time to be junior secondary schools, now known as State secondary schools were literally filled by the MIE diploma holders, while many of them who were also employed in Seychelles or Zimbabwe in the early 80’s with only a teacher’s diploma as qualification.
A fact, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, which sheds light on the quality of training offered by the MIE since its early years of existence. So to mention, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, that the system has proved over years that quality teaching was strictly adhered to and that continuous measures have been taken over years to enhance quality in terms of training, research and teaching. And credit, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, goes to all those pedagogues who have taken up the challenges of the early and later days of that institution and who have strived hard to maintain all standards of quality teaching.
It has to be mentioned also, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir that all the steps made during this long walk have been rendered possible by people of vision, of mission, of commitment and of passion for the teaching profession. And to all those pedagogues, all employees of the MIE, credit goes to them. And I call them les chevaliers du possible.
A tous les enseignants de la république de Maurice qui ont reçu une formation du MIE et qui, à travers leur noble métier, ont produit des générations de gens ayant réussi en tant que personnes humaines et en tant que professionnels, bravo! Qu’ils ne soient surtout pas blessés par les propos de l’honorable Baloomoody car ils n’ont pas produit d’échec. Qu’il soit rappelé, M. le président, que les formateurs du MIE, les enseignants formés par le MIE ne sont pas responsables du taux d’échec au niveau du CPE, les échecs doivent être attribués à d’autres facteurs. Aucun enfant de l’ile Maurice, M. le président, n’est un échec.
M. le président, que tous les diplômés du MIE soient fiers de leurs formations et aussi de leurs formateurs. Bref, qu’ils soient fiers de l’institut de pédagogie et qu’il renvoie aux calendes grecques les propos d’un honorable membre de l’Assemblée qui méprise la formation locale et par extension ses compatriotes et ses propres mandants. Quel regard, M. le président, sur Maurice et sur le potentiel des fils et des filles de ce sol !
Les pages de Facebook doivent surement pleuvoir de commentaires dans ce sens, mais l’histoire retiendra le mépris, les propos méprisants envers ceux qui sont formés à l’ile Maurice et envers la formation qui est octroyée à l’ile Maurice par l’institut de pédagogie.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, this Bill comes at a time when the educational tapestry is weaved with so many tertiary educations, other than the two pioneer ones of our learned island, namely the University of Mauritius and the Mauritius Institute of Education. It was high time then for the MIE to stop having to make recommendations to the University of Mauritius for awarding or countering degrees or use moderators from other institutions to further its objectives, as specified in section 6 of the precedent Act.
The MIE, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, had to be given its full autonomy and this is precisely what this present amendment comes to bring. This Government, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, in its vision of providing the best possible encadrement for training, has understood that it is vital to keep moving in a steady and purposive way, and through its Minister of Education comes to bring another solid human resource pace in the educational field by providing the lacking tool to an institution, which needed that key to open more doors and explore more avenues of development and progress. However, the MIE, as a new degree awarding institution, having to meet the challenges of a fast changing society, will have to put in appropriate mechanisms to ensure that its students benefit from world-class education and training.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the mandate of the MIE, as per its Act, is to provide facilities for and to engage in educational research, curriculum development and teacher education. The MIE span of service is one of accompaniment in the educational field from the initial basic training to more opportunities of advancement and progress. In this endeavour, it provides continuous development programmes to all educators fully engaged in training and also in leadership positions.
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Armance! Please continue!
Mrs Monty: And even to inspectorate cadre in the primary and secondary sectors. So far, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the MIE has trained 50,447 teachers among whom the number of B.Ed., meaning Bachelor of Education holders amounts to 1,184. I repeat, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, 50,447 duly trained diplomats, 50,447 successes and not failures as has advanced the hon. Member of this House earlier.
Toutefois, M. le président, pour mieux mettre en lumière l’importance de la décision de la ministre à apporter cet amendement de loi de 1973, permettez-moi de rappeler en quelques mots les limites d’un texte de loi ayant entraîné dans son sillage suffisamment de perte d’argent et de temps. Le rôle et l’importance des cours pédagogiques rattachés au domaine de spécialisation permettent aux jeunes gradués d’être suffisamment formés pédagogiquement.
Cependant, nombreux sont les jeunes gradués qui auraient reçu l’admiration de l’honorable Baloomoody brillant de leur formation académique et qui rejoignent le secteur éducatif et qui sombrent aussi bien souvent pédagogiquement en milieu scolaire car n’ayant pas les outils pédagogiques nécessaires pour comprendre la psychologie de l’enfant, la sociologie de l’éducation, voire même comment interagir en classe et maintenir la discipline et, de ce fait, gênant le processus même d’apprentissage au lieu de le faciliter. D’où, M. le président, le besoin urgent d’avoir une formation adéquate pour tous ceux voulant servir dans le domaine éducatif.
Faut-il rappeler que dans le passé le Teacher’s Diploma requérait trois années d’études à temps partiel pour ceux déjà dans le service et deux années additionnelles pour obtenir un B.Ed., Bachelor of Education, dont les cours sont dispensés par le MIE mais pour lesquels le diplôme est octroyé par l’université de Maurice. N’est-ce pas une aberration, M. le président ? Pour dire qu’il est grand temps de corriger cette anomalie.
Pour continuer, M. le président, permettez-moi de citer James Burge qui dit –
“Probably the greatest challenge to making manpower effective is determining the type and timing of the programme that can best contribute to change.”
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the amendment of the MIE Act of 1973 is a very good decision of the Minister. A step which should have been taken long before but, fortunately, happening now before it is too late. But, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, to highlight the importance of that decision, an important aspect has to be mentioned.
It is the considerable cost that has been incurred over years for payment to external bodies just for the award of degrees to students who themselves have been under the educational responsibility of the MIE. This limited power of the MIE is now being waived and it must be highlighted also that unnecessary loss of funds for huge amounts paid to external bodies could now be redirected towards investment in adequate documentation conducive to proper training of students for their degrees.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, those who have been students at the MIE, will recall the limits of a poorly equipped library which should now be realigned so as to respond to the needs of its present development and challenges and also to its new status as a degreeoriented institution. However, if training of students should be the priority, the academic staff also should be properly resourced so as to meet the challenges of a fast changing world.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, if reinvestment of funds in educational resources and documentation is important, alignment to new trends and development cannot be missed. It should also be remembered, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, that a set of quality control mechanism and an effective monitoring system should also be set up so that on a comparability basis, the MIE also meets the required standards as a new degree-oriented institution.
So to say, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the Mauritius Institute of Education Bill comes at a time when the MIE could no longer exist as an institution limited only to the award of diplomas and certificates. It was high time to correct that state of things as far as the educational span of service is concerned.
On this avenue of newness, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the MIE will have to broaden its fields of study, give equal opportunities to the youth of Mauritius and also to more mature students. It will also have to increase its capacity intake to bring important structural improvements to provide more flexible modes of studies, including in-house and distance education, even more flexible hours of attendance for example, set up training and capacitybuilding programmes as well. In short,
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, within this new scope of action, the MIE should see that both trainers and trainees are well-equipped to face the challenges of globalisation and that standards are set according to international levels.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, if education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom, as rightly said by George Washington Carver, then this amendment is bringing the unlocking tool to open the doors of new possibilities of training, teaching and research. It will also offer a wide array of choice to prospective students and learning outcomes for a healthy and blossoming educational world.
And, here, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I join Chancellor Linda Katehi in saying that –
“When it comes to being an architect of change, I don’t know of a new more effective blueprint than education.”
To conclude, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I wish that this new gate opens for the MIE a long avenue of growth and success in its precious contribution towards making of Mauritius the intelligent island of the region. On these words, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I wish to leave the floor and thank you.
The Deputy Speaker: The sitting is suspended for 10 minutes.
At 00.18 a.m., the sitting was suspended.
On resuming at 00.44 a.m. with Madam Speaker in the Chair. Madam Speaker: Please be seated! Hon. Ramano!
PRIVILEGE OF THE ASSEMBLY
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY – PICTURE TAKING
Mr Mohamed: I am sorry to interrupt Madam Speaker! I have a point of privilege that I would like to raise and it is extremely urgent! And with your permission, may I proceed and explain what it is? Thank you.
I have come together with my friends of the Opposition across photographs that have been taken unlawfully within this Assembly by Member of the Government, using mobile apparatus, shared on the Facebook page of hon. Hurreeram which he shared with hon. Jhugroo, which he has shared with hon. Toussaint and they have kept on sharing it with hon. Sinatambou, with hon. Members of Government.
Madam Speaker: I am on my feet!
I am on my feet!
Hon. Sinatambou! Please give way! Allow him to finish his point of order then you will raise yours.
Mr Mohamed: Yes I am! I am!
Madam Speaker: Then you will time yourself! I will give you!
Mr Mohamed: Maybe he can take it up later on in his press conference but I have here clearly, we have all consulted it, the Facebook page where all the Facebook pages where this photograph taken against the rules of coverage Madam Speaker, where no Member has the right to take photographs without your permission Madam Speaker in this August Assembly and has worse not even got the right to even upload it online, on a page and to share it with other Members of this Assembly belonging to Government. If this is not a matter of urgent privilege, it is a contempt of National Assembly privilege, then I find this, I find no words to qualify how serious this is. If we cannot even comply with elementary rules of procedure, rules of coverage, this is a blatant violation of privilege!
Madam Speaker: Yes Hon. Sinatambou!
Mr Sinatambou: Madam Speaker, I understand that the hon. Member is raising this point by virtue of Standing Order 74. Now, under Standing Order 74, if he wishes to raise a privilege complaint, he has to give written notice to the House, to the Speaker in writing. Secondly, the hon. Member has quoted my name as being one of - I don’t who - how many people who have been sharing something on...
Well I have no knowledge! I have not been using Facebook on my telephone. So I do not know how he can just make allegations regarding me. But, in any event, from a reading of Standing Order 74 Rule 1, he has to give written notice of this matter to you.
Madam Speaker: I take both points of order. Now I have to enquire into the circumstances in which all these happened and I will need time to do this, and you will appreciate that, at this late hour, it is not possible for me to enquire into the circumstances and give a ruling. So, I will come with a ruling at some later stage.
We may now, therefore, proceed with…
Mr Mohamed: Madam, I understand the predicament if your permission, if this is looked into and postponed at a later stage, then we are giving time to hon. Members in this Assembly to delete the evidence! And the evidence is right now here! We can go to your Chamber and I will show it to you. And you can have the telephone seized!
Madam Speaker: No! Please sit down hon. Mohamed! Please sit down! Now you should understand that I need to enquire! You have already raised this point! I know how I have to proceed so that whatever you have said is not deleted or action is not taken on the other side. Right? But I need time to enquire because it is a serious matter and I have to enquire into the circumstances before I give a ruling on this matter. So I will come with a ruling on this matter at a later stage!
Mr A. Duval: Madam Speaker, if I may just add to this. You will see in Section 74(3), there is provision for urgency. In this matter, they are flouting the privilege of this Assembly. I recommend Madam Speaker, if you could perhaps consider, that the sitting be suspended for another 10 minutes, the evidence is here and there is right here contempt of the Assembly!
Madam Speaker: No…
Mr A. Duval: Madam Speaker, the privileges ...
Madam Speaker …
Madam Speaker: Please, sit down! I have already given my ruling on this. If really you want to take up this matter under section 74, then it says that -
“(1) a Member who wishes to raise a privilege complaint shall give written notice (...)”
I am not taking notice of section 74(1). The hon. Member has raised a point of order and I have already given my ruling. Usually, I should not have left it to other Members to come after I have given a ruling, but as a matter of democratic principles, I have allowed the hon. Member to make his point. So, I had already said that I will come back with a ruling after I have enquired into all the circumstances.
So, we may now proceed with the Mauritius Institute of Education (Amendment) Bill.
Hon. Ramano, you have the floor!
Mr K. Ramano (Third Member for Belle Rose & Quatre Bornes): Madame la présidente, il est vrai de dire que l’objectif principal du Mauritius Institute of Education (Amendment) Bill (No. II of 2017) est to upgrade le MIE into a degree awarding institution. Il est vrai aussi de dire que cela a créé une certaine effervescence au niveau du syndicat, des enseignants du primaire qui voient là une légitimation de leur revendication pour un alignement de salaires avec les enseignants du secondaire. Il y va aussi d’un changement de regard sur ces enseignants car nous avons besoin des enseignants formés et qualifiés à tous les échelons. Un enseignant du primaire doit être qualifié pour enseigner jusqu’aux Grade seven, eight or nine.
Mais il faut se rendre aussi à l’évidence, Madame la présidente, que l’implication du présent Bill engendre toute une série de changements dans le mindset, dans la philosophie primaire du MIE et du ministère de l’Education. Il y va de l’autonomie même du MIE.
Madam Speaker, the MIE was created in 1973 in the immediate aftermath of independence movements. Its aim was to professionalise the teaching corps, develop curriculum for schools and carry out researches in education. Today, in 2017, the decision is proposed to this Assembly to attribute to it degree awarding powers. This is long overdue because the MIE has been servicing degree awarding courses for more than two decades.
Let us consider what should have been the rationale for amendment to the Act. This Bill is an opportunity to look beyond the degree awarding status and consider what reform is needed to develop a more efficacious structure for teachers’ professional development. It is an indisputable fact that the success of any educational reform depends on the quality of teachers. Will a change in the status of the MIE be sufficient to bring about any new philosophy and structure for teachers’ education? More importantly, Madam Speaker, a country is as strong as its institutions if education is to take us forward to the next phase of our development.
It is critical for us to ensure that institutions of higher learning are rendered independent, enjoy some degree of financial autonomy to achieve the goals and are equipped with the required manpower to discharge their duties to the nation.
MIE has performed well within the constraints imposed by our context, but we now need to consider very seriously how it is to be equipped by means of this Act to fulfil our aspirations as a nation and to find its place in the international landscape of higher education.
Let us consider the MIE and Ministry relationship. Currently, the MIE falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education as any other public institutions of higher learning, but it is a parastatal body. This arrangement promotes national objectives by ensuring coherence in curricular policy and implementation by teachers. It is my understanding when I read the various reports on education that the Ministry of Education continuously draws from the expertise of MIE staff for policy setting as well as the pedagogical and technical aspects of the school curriculum. The Quality Audit Report, page 26, comments –
“The position of MIE as an arm of Government, providing teachers’ education and related services is now unusual internationally although not historically unusual as many autonomous teachers, education providers started in a similar position to that of MIE.”
The panel noted that many stakeholders such as staff unions are content with or even actively favour the relationship between MIE and the Ministry of Education as they appear to see this as providing an avenue to bring influence to bear on MIE or the Mauritian school system more generally. This close relationship is not in itself undesirable, but it carries dangers for academic freedom and the autonomy of operations that are the hallmarks of higher education institutions if the controlling authority does not provide enough flexibility to management, in how the institution is managed.
This relationship has served the Ministry of Education well, but whether this has served the MIE to maintain its independence and autonomy is another question.
The MIE was set up as a parastatal body, not as a Department of the Ministry of Education primarily, for it to maintain both an academic and a technical role. Its academic identity is absolutely central to its function for teachers’ preparation as confirmed by the experience of educationally successful countries like Finland where a teacher preparation for any level involves a Master’s degree earned at Universities. The Quality Audit Reports of 2007 and 2013 - but what have we observed over the years at MIE? An increasing shift of responsibilities shouldered by the Ministry over to MIE to the extent that the usual core business of the Institute which is to ensure international benchmark teacher education programmes and quality teachers education outcomes has been taken over by policy implementation, issues which are meant to be shouldered by the technical arm of the Ministry of Education. The two external Quality Audit Reports of MIE, produced my foreign experts in quality assurance in higher education institutions, converge to this conclusion –
“Academic staff at MIE are overworked and their basic function as teachers education is often compromised when the institutional exigencies which emanate from the Ministry of Education are levied on them with very short deadlines.”
Writing of textbooks is one. This function was imposed by a Ministerial letter on MIE in 2010. The institution proposes the setting up of a structure to accommodate this function which was never considered and neither was there a budget for this.
I cite here the Quality Audit Report of 2013, at page 5, which states -
“The Panel met with many staff members who are highly committed to achieve the mandate of the institution. However, the priorities and work load of the academic staff have to be carefully managed as it was found that with substantial time dedicated to curriculum development on behalf of MOEHR (within tight deadlines) there is great risk of compromising the quality of curriculum materials and relegating teaching to a secondary role.”
We are tempted to ask the Why question, but the answer is self-evident, MIE is currently chaired by the SCE of the Ministry and this is not the only instance of the SCE to fulfil this function. This is an unnatural state of affairs and totally detrimental to the Independence and autonomy which should characterised the functioning of parastatal bodies. The number of ministerial representatives on its council outnumber by far academics and staff representatives, which is currently only too apart from the Director. The original provision of the 1973 was five, but this was brought down later on.
MIE should be seen to and function as an academic institution. Its structure is academic, but its council cannot be currently considered as having the ideal configuration of members which should have the vision and independence to lead an academic institution. The quality Audit Report of 2013 state and I quote –
“The Panel is of view that, in line with international best practices in academic governance, and pending proposed changes in the MIE Act 1978, a redefinition of the terms of reference of Council would give MIE improved capacity to achieve its mission. An eventual change in membership of Council to include independent members, with the co-opting of experts on a needs basis, is required if MIE is to implement good governance.”
I therefore propose that Members of this Assembly to take a bold decision that will serve for the profit of the teaching profession by revisiting the composition of its council to reduce the number of representatives from the Ministry of Education which is currently at three to one and to increase the number of representatives from two to four. More so, the representatives from other Ministries must be reduced to accommodate more representatives from the education sector, possibly one with international expertise in higher education.
This is in the light of the report by international experts commissioned by the TEC. Second, academic leadership is critical to ensure fitness for purpose of MIE. I refer again to the quality Audit’s Reports, but they are independent and scientific and were commissioned by the Tertiary Education Commission. The first Audit Report at page 3 recommends –
“The Panel recommends that MIE reviews its responsibilities, functioning and composition of policy making bodies such as the Council and the Academic Board to ensure their pro-active role in guiding the institution.”
Both audits reiterate the point that the current constitution of the academic Board cannot fulfil its academic leadership role because its external members do not have the expertise to advise the Institute with respect to its functioning. It states and I quote –
“External representation should be limited to members who can contribute to academic decisions and policy, for example, UOM representation could be maintained as long as there is an academic partnership in place.”
Since the MIE assumed again curriculum development functions in 2010, its related activities and outcomes have remained outside the purview of the academic Board which must be in a position to co-opt members with a required expertise whether locally or abroad to advise the Institute. Because MIE is a longest standing public institution, it must guard against the tendency of being self-referential particularly in matters of curriculum development. The Act can be amended to compromise only of academics and a senior administrative officer as the Registrar. These academics should be primarily from the institutions with two external members from institutions with which the MIE has an on-going academic partnership.
I am of the opinion that the act must offer the academic Board the opportunity to coopt members especially from the International Community of Scholars to ensure that standards and practices are adequately benchmarked. To end, Madam Speaker allow me to read page 28 of the Quality Audit Report –
“The1973 legislation specifies Council membership categories which means Council is dominated by Government department nominations with the current Chair being from the parent Government department and, inexplicably, in an acting capacity since 2005;
There are no explicit terms of reference for the Council nor was there evidence that the Council had evaluated its own performance as a governing body or undergone governance training at any point;
There is no evidence of an effective committee structure to provide expertise and advice to assist the Council to discharge its responsibilities’’.
The Panel concluded that this is not a satisfactory situation particularly if the intention of the MOEHR is for MIE to be further empowered and granted authority to award degrees. There needs to be consideration in the redrafted Act to ensure that MIE has an independent Council in line with international practices in governance of academic institutions which are empowered to act without fear or favour in the best interests of the institution as an institution. This would not preclude representation of Government departments on Council, but the balance should be towards independent appointees from outside both MIE and Government and with an independent Chair. Moves to reconstitute Council membership should also take account of the international trend in corporate governance to invite members on the basis of their expertise so that Council has the benefit of specialist advice in areas such as law, academia and finance.
Emergent stakeholder groups should also be considered such as parent groups including representation from Rodrigues in consideration of its new legislative position. In addition, there needs to be consideration of a committee structure to provide specialist input and advice to Council’s deliberations.
Madam Speaker, the terms of reference for a reconstituted Council need to acknowledge that it has the responsibility to oversee the MIE in terms of both management and academic functions drawing on two sources of advice: the Director, for overall management of MIE and the Academic Board in relation to academic matters through the Chair of the Academic Committee either with a written report or in person. The Panel appreciated that the introduction of new legislation and potential reconstitution of the Council may take some time, but considered that it was necessary to introduce clarity into the current open-ended arrangements to ensure governance practices prevail at MIE.
With these words, Madam Speaker, I thank you.
Madam Speaker: Hon. Fowdar!
Mr S. Fowdar (Third Member for Grand’Baie & Poudre d’Or): Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, I will try not to repeat what my other friends have already mentioned in this House. Madam Speaker, I have no doubt that the hon. Minister means well. I have no doubt that she wants to do well for our children, and I am sure that we all join her in her endeavour to provide the best education for our children.
I was a little bit surprised today, Madam Speaker, that the issue of education is creating so much disagreement among the hon. Members of both sides of the House. Education is an issue, I think, where all of us need to come to consensus because it concerns the career, the future of our children.
Madam Speaker, today, we are called upon to vote for a few small amendments to be brought to the MIE Act, and one of those small amendments is a small amendment with big effects and big consequences. It is the one which concerns giving powers to MIE to award degrees. I consider this to be a very sensible and very important amendment. It is the practice, as in many other countries, that Parliament decides, gives statutory powers to the institutions to award degrees. Well, it is the practice here as well. We have to go through the Parliament. But, Madam Speaker, are we all experts in education in this House? Are we all experts in pedagogy in this House? Certainly not! A few, maybe! And we are taking a decision today to give powers to the MIE and we don’t have the knowledge. We don’t know on what basis we are going to decide to give the MIE this power.
Certainly, we are relying on the Ministry of Education. Certainly, we rely on the work carried out by the hon. Minister, and we rely on her, the comforts she is giving to us. Based on that, we are going to vote for this amendment.
Madam Speaker, the MIE is not an ordinary institution. It is the one and the only one institution which caters for teachers’ education. So, it is not only a graduate degree which can be used to find jobs. Here, the degree will be used to teach our children and to teach our children for the future, for their career; to prepare them to face the world of work; to prepare them to face the future. Therefore, it is really very important that care must be given to it, full consideration must be given to it, and that we have to cross all the processes very legitimately, so that the best education is provided to them. So, degrees awarded here are really important and the degrees are meant to multiply, because the teachers trained by MIE will be training our students, our children, and they, in turn, will be degree holders in the future. So, here we are talking of degrees in multiplication to happen after the degrees are being awarded by the MIE. Madam Speaker, it is obvious that the trainer needs to have the right training, the correct training, so that they give the right training to our children.
We must ensure that the right qualifications and skills are given to the teachers who will educate our children and youngsters. And here, Madam Speaker, we don’t have the right to make any mistake, because the quality of education given to teachers will consequentially reflect, will impact on the quality of the manpower in general in this country. This is why, Madam Speaker, I consider this small amendment to be extremely important.
As I said earlier, Madam Speaker, we would rely on the parent Ministry, the hon. Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research while taking a decision today to vote or not for the amendment. Now, this amendment, as I said, will have a direct bearing on the future of our children and also on the economy of our country. We need to have formal procedures,
Madam Speaker. This is a little bit on what I have got doubts. Do we have formal set procedures to test these institutions, not only the MIE, but any other institutions to be given powers to award degrees? Do we have set procedures, guidelines that would be used to grant powers to the institutions? I think there need to be rigorous tests and audits before we do so.
I did some research work before coming here, Madam Speaker. I very discreetly spoke to a few senior staff of the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) because I wanted to know what sort of methodology they have used, if they have advised the Ministry, to assess whether the MIE is ready to give degrees. I also wanted to know from them whether they really recommended the Ministry to go ahead. The answer was simply that the decision is not theirs but that of the Ministry.
Therefore, it gives me doubt, Madam Speaker. Who has given the green light to the Ministry? Is it the TEC or the Ministry, or is it the panel of experts, as mentioned by the hon. Minister earlier on? There was a panel of experts who came to Mauritius, international people, and they recommended that MIE be given the powers to award degrees.
Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to hon. Baloomoody. Although I may not totally agree with his speech, one thing that I agree with him is quality assurance. This morning, I read on the papers that the Ministry and TEC are going ahead with quality assurance. Now, ‘quality assurance’ is the key word here, Madam Speaker.
Is the TEC doing the proper and the correct quality assurance? Are they well equipped? Do they have the trained people, the manpower needed for quality assurance? Is the quality assurance in place today giving comfort to people to accept the degrees that are produced by the local institutions?
Madam Speaker, I understand the TEC is the regulator for the tertiary sector and is principally involved in quality assurance. But I do also understand that they do a lot of regulatory work such as they look at buildings, they look at lecturers, they look at courses, they look at quality assurance and what not. They can do all these things at the same time, but they cannot be a jack of all trades, Madam Speaker.
There should be no conflict in its role and responsibilities. It is now time to separate their duties and to create separate divisions within the TEC or to create a new institution. The quality assurance issue is a very sensible one. It is high time, Madam Speaker, to set written guidelines, publicised, known to everybody before conferring powers to award degrees. It is high time to create an institution equivalent to the quality assurance agency, the QAA in the UK.
I was also thinking that there is a lot of duplication of what the MQA is doing and what the TEC is doing. Is it not high time to look at these two institutions and see what can be merged from them or emerging straightaway? Anyway, Madam Speaker, when I read the newspapers this morning, I was really comforted because
I had a long speech regarding quality assurance and I can see that TEC is going to carry quality assurance very shortly.
Now, why are we giving the power to issue degrees by the MIE? I understand there is a shortage of degree holders in the field of education and something must be done quickly to fill the gap. But, I think also that we should not rush to be producing degrees at the expense of quality. Are we awarding powers to the MIE today because the teachers and the lecturers need a degree or is it because the MIE is now ready and competent and well-structured to award degrees. Now, hopefully, Madam Speaker, the latter should be correct.
Madam Speaker, the services sector in Mauritius - and I think Mrs Monty has mentioned that - is a very promising and it is becoming an important pillar of the economy, if not, the most important pillar of the economy. We have got sincere aims to turn Mauritius into a knowledge economy. We would be selling our know-how, we would be selling our brains, the ability of our people and, therefore, the quality of our graduates is extremely important. They must be of international standard and ready to compete with international graduates. Our degrees must be internationally recognised and our graduates should be prepared to become employable on the international front and this is how we would make the services sector an important pillar of the economy.
The increase in the number of educational institution is a very good sign, Madam Speaker, but we must ensure that it is not at the detriment of quality. I think we must pay more emphasis on quality rather than quantity. The quality and standard of our graduates are very much more important than the quantity. The power to award degrees is an important issue and cannot be taken à la légère.
Madam Speaker, I have no doubt that the Ministry has done their work and, today, we rely on them and we vote for this amendment. However, in the recent past, in the same House, Madam Speaker, the power to award degrees was conferred to few private institutions and I can say that the graduates, from one or two of these institutions, are facing much problem in getting their employers to recognise and to give importance to their degrees.
Recently, one of my mandates came to see me with a degree from one of these institutions and she was getting a lot of problems to get a potential employer to accept her degree and the potential employer was none other than the PSSA, Madam Speaker. Now, this institution was conferred power to award degree by this House and is accredited by the TEC, still the degree is not recognised. This is what is happening, Madam Speaker. Now, let us imagine, if the PSSA, a Government-owned body refuses to accept these degrees, what is happening to job application letters that are received by employers. I am certainly sure that they are being thrown in the bin, Madam Speaker, before they are being looked at. So, it is very important that that people have confidence in the degree that we are producing locally. It is a fact, Madam Speaker, that some employers are still looking down at the degrees produced by the local institutions.
Now, what will happen on the international level if the local employers are unwilling to trust our own degrees? Is it not time to review the whole tertiary sector, review the role of each player, create an environment that will fuel confidence in everybody; the employers must be given the comfort that the process of accreditation, the process of audits, academic reviews and quality assurance are rigorous and they are carried out by experts who make no concession whatsoever regard to quality.
The other point I wanted to raise, Madam Speaker, is the amendment makes mention of degrees, but does it imply Bachelor degrees, Master degrees and doctorates? Is it all three or is it phase-wise? Are we going to allow them to do all these three or are we going to allow them to start with the Bachelor degrees in the first instance?
The other point, Madam Speaker, is I wanted to raise the same point raised by hon. Ramano, it is about the composition of the Council and Academic Board. I think it is time to review both the Council and the Academic Board. It has to compensate with the upgrading of the MIE. The MIE is going to be awarding degrees, so the Council and the Academic Board need to be stronger, need to have strong academics, professors, not lecturers, and highly qualified people.
Madam Speaker, I also agree with hon. Ramano that the Senior Executive of the Ministry of Education should not be chairing the Board of the MIE, that would be conflicting. We need to leave MIE independent, leave them on their own, but we need to see what they are doing.
Now the other thing I have not be able to understand is why the Chairperson of the PSC is sitting in the Council of the MIE. What is the link? If she sits in the MIE, then she should be sitting in all the educational institutions. So, why she is there? Maybe the Minister can enlighten the House about it.
Madam Speaker, to end, I want to confirm that I am not against the decision of granting power, of awarding degree to the MIE. The issue for me is not the MIE. The issue for me is the process used to grant such powers. It is not only in the MIE, it is for all the institutions where this issue will be raised.
What I want to see, Madam Speaker, is that our degrees, our qualifications are powerful, are accepted, are recognised locally, internationally and this can only happen, Madam Speaker, through confidence and our confidence can only arise if there is rigorous, quality assurance, checks, audits, academic reviews; they must be strong, they must give confidence when the employer gets a degree from any of these institutions, they would be comforted that they are good degrees, which is not the case now, Madam Speaker, not only for the private institutions, but even for the public ones. Some employers are reluctantly accepting the degrees produced by these institutions.
Madam Speaker, I trust the Minister. I know the Minister is coming with the Further Education Bill and she is also coming with reforms within the tertiary sector. As I said, we all care for our children. I, too, care for my children, my grandchildren or whatever, and we want to have an education system, a tertiary sector which is strong, which gives confidence to employers, to people and which would give our children a better future, Madam Speaker.
I thank you.
Madam Speaker: Hon. Ms Sewocksingh.
Ms M. Sewocksingh (Third Member for Curepipe & Midlands): Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, we have in front of us a Bill, the main object of which is to provide for the upgrading of the Mauritius Institute of Education so that this institution may become an institution which can now award degrees.
Madam Speaker, I am of the same school that says that the MIE is a body which has made its proof and we can proudly say that today it has lived to the expectation of a respected nation, which has built its reputation of the importance of education.
Madam Speaker, education is the gateway to success. Any proposal, recommendation or motion is always welcomed.
This having said, let us come directly to the crux of the matter. The MIE today is an institution which runs courses at different levels, we heard it a lot. It caters for training of trainees for pre-primary, primary and secondary and even for certain specific cases for postgraduation and degrees with the help and collaboration of certain tertiary education institutions in Mauritius or abroad, for example, the
University of Brighton which the hon. Minister mentioned.
However, Madam, till now, the MIE does not award degrees. It can only award diplomas and certificates, including the PGCE, that is, the Postgraduate Certificate of Education. As regards the award of degrees, this does not exist and is not allowed by the existing provisions of the Mauritius Institute of Education Act. This is well spelt out in section 6 of the Act at paragraph (b) subsections 1, 2 and 3 which are being repealed and replaced.
In fact, the MIE Act provides for the MIE to make recommendations to the University of Mauritius for the award and conforming of degrees. This means that the University of Mauritius is the awarding body and it is not the MIE which however organises and runs the courses and takes care of the assessment.
The MIE, despite being a well-structured, competent and efficient institution, has not been, until now, in a position to award degrees. As we say, better late than never! It is a matter of prestige for the MIE to be a degree awarding institution. It will be more cost efficient. It will help to promote MIE as a competent teachers’ training institution in this part of the world. But, we have heard it and I think hon. Baloomoody said it, how far will it be recognised.
However, if this is materialising now and could not be done earlier, there must have been certain reasons. Indeed, who says the Mauritius Institute of Education degree awarding body also says MIE a tertiary educational institution which means that the MIE should give all the assurance. We have heard that, Madam Speaker, a lot of time while debating about the quality assurance within its existing structure. It has all the necessary bodies which actually exist in universities which allow sufficient leeway and due monitoring and control to make of the institution a respected one worthy of the confidence placed in it by the various stakeholders of tertiary education.
You will recall, Madam Speaker, in the case of most universities awarding degrees, the basic structure, that is, you have the board of exams, the school board, the quality control and then you have the academic and senate council. My question is: how does the MIE, the Mauritius Institute of Education fit in this type of structure which is a must to become a degree awarding institution? We are told that insofar as this academic infrastructure is concerned, the MIE does have a good system, especially for awarding certificates and diplomas, but will it be sufficient enough for awarding degrees?
The MIE is now just starting in a new venture. It cannot and should not be taken for granted. We have heard it a lot tonight. It will have to tread very cautiously on this new path, take all necessary precautions and make sure that it has the collaboration of other well-known tertiary education institutions. Yes, Madam Speaker, I put emphasis on well-known duly registered tertiary education institutions. This is where I condemn the lavishness in the amendment proposed at clause 4 of the Bill which amends section 6, subsection (2) (b) of the Act mentioning that the functions of the Institute shall be to, and I quote –
“award degrees, diplomas and certificates, whether on its own or jointly, with any tertiary education institution.”
This, Madam Speaker, means that it will work in collaboration with any other tertiary education institution. Madam Speaker, the hon. Minister has mentioned a list while giving her speech, but I suggest in this new clause to be more precise, that is, we have to be more explicit and worthy by adding the word ‘recognised’ before ‘tertiary education institution’ to make it read ‘with any recognised tertiary education institution’.
Madam Speaker, here, I have another concern. I think hon. Ramful also mentioned it - it is about the academic council, it is about section 11 where we shall remove the ‘representatives of the University of Mauritius’ and replace it by ‘2 members from recognised tertiary institutions’. So, my question is, Madam Speaker: who will appoint these two people and how will these two people be recruited?
Madam Speaker, I must highlight now the case of the primary educational subsector which, since the creation of the Teacher Training School at the start, has given the lettre de noblesse to this institution which has now grown to become what it is and soon be equivalent to a university. Indeed, Madam Speaker, I consider that the most important and fundamental part in teachers training is mainly at the level of primary and pre-primary sectors. I think hon. Fowdar just mentioned what I am going to say in detail.
If the training is well conducted for teachers with all the parameters, with all the legislations to become true leaders, mentors, then more than half of the battle is won. The schoolchildren on this phase of their apprentissage will get the best of what holistic education can offer to them and emerge on the path as the true responsible patriots or citizens, thus causing education to become easier to impart.
Madam Speaker, a primary school teacher is a role model. Ils sont des accompagnateurs de l’enfant where he imparts knowledge, wisdom as well as skills and life values to those who aspire to be the best citizens in the world. The well prepared primary school child definitely eases the work of the secondary school teacher by providing him with the best elements at an age usually 11 to 12 when the child starts into the period of puberty to be followed by the personality development in the course of adolescence. This is why I take this opportunity to lay stress on the need of providing the best pay – we have not spoken till now about the remuneration of the teachers who will take care of the school children.
Madam Speaker, they have to be remunerated accordingly. These teachers must be strong and fully versed with the experience of psychologists and they must have some devoted and committed personality to observe anomalies which are usually observed at a later stage of life.
It is a fact and it can be understood that degrees more than diplomas, certificates are more of a concern of the training of secondary school educators, Master of Arts education, for example. Now that the MIE will be in a legal position to deliver degrees, it should be the responsibility of the Institute with the collaboration of the TEC and also other tertiary institutions abroad as well as those international bodies dealing with education such as UNESCO or the Commonwealth to arrange for such courses that may lead to degrees adapted to education of the primary education sector and even to the pre-primary sector, why not.
Much can be said on the importance of this sector in the educational system, Madam Speaker, not only in Mauritius, but for any educational system in the world. We have had many examples this evening. Suffice is not to say that, but we do say it will always be a fact that the basis of education system lies in the strength and best organisation of these two sectors, that is, for the child between the age of three when he joins the system till the age of 10 when he is ready to join secondary level.
Today with the coming into play of the Nine-Year Basic Continuous Schooling, the age 10 to 11 will be shifted to 13/14 by englobing lower secondary, if I may.
Never mind, Madam Speaker, my reasoning will still be the same. My point is to stress on that period of life from 3 to 13 years which is the most important in moulding the personality of the individual when the child grows gradually and passes through the different phases of infancy. All these important periods can put a lot of stress in the child’s brain, that is why we need competent people who have the quality. This is my point. This is where we need the quality degree.
We need the best of what we are giving into these degrees, Madam Speaker.
For all these reasons, we are talking about the holistic development, maybe this is what some Members of the other side cannot understand at this time of the night. I am talking about the holistic approach.
I said it clearly on this side of the House. My point is the holistic approach. MIE is going to be a degree awarding institution. Very good! We have heard a lot, we have debated, but what is more important, Madam Speaker, is, at the end of the day, the child must be the winner. It is the holistic approach of the child which is going to be taken into consideration. The academic part proposes to impart knowledge while the extra curriculum part proposes to impart life skills and values to the child. I hope, Madam Speaker, that the hon. Minister, while putting it in the modules, will definitely take it on board. Shouldn’t the Mauritius Institute of Education, even if it is already doing it, pursue with more insight and go still further in their researches? We have heard a lot about it - researches that are carried out across the world to further improve the knowledge of the educators themselves through the degrees they prepare, so that they may become enough experienced to communicate and impart their own knowledge to those for whom they have the responsibility to transform into the best citizens of the world.
Madam Speaker, before ending, I wish to draw the attention of the House that whatever the system may provide as training to our educators, whatever upgrading we may add to the MIE to raise the status of our education through the best training - this is what I mean - the expected results of enhancing the education standards in our country and making the best of our next-generation may not and never be achieved if we do not remedy other weaknesses that lie in the system especially in the regard to the youngest as I have mentioned.
I have in mind the modernisation of infrastructures, the improvement of amenities and the follow-up of children outside school. That is, when they are in the presence of society. The award of degrees implying the best training available and yielding the high-calibre teachers is one thing, but, Madam Speaker, how will this work, for example, if the system does that make sure that the child is really benefiting. It is only when we remedy these weaknesses that the MIE is going to have this very well legal awarding degree institution.
Before I end, Madam Speaker, one important word I would like all of us to retain tonight.
Well, I am concluding. It is the word meritocracy. It is a very simple word. Let meritocracy be the keyword at all levels while conducting the degrees at the MIE. There should not be any kind of interference – I am not going to go into details – as we have seen a lot in other universities and let the MIE be a fully independent awarded institution.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker: Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun!
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Madam Speaker, I wish, first of all, to thank all the hon. Members from both sides of the House who have contributed to the debate on this important Bill. I have also taken good note of the favourable response to the proposed amendment made to the Act, at least, on this side of House.
Madam Speaker, I would like to respond to some of the queries and apprehensions of Members on the other side of the House and let me start with hon. Baloomoody.
Hon. Baloomoody seems to be worried about the fact that including in the Council of the MIE another tertiary institution would mean excluding University of Mauritius. This is not the case, Madam Speaker. What, in fact, we are doing is that, initially, we had two representatives of the University of Mauritius on the MIE Council. We are now proposing that, since the MIE works with other institutions as well, we would rather have two representatives from two different TEIs. When I talk about the TEIs, we are talking about TEIs as per the TEC Act and as per TEC Act Schedule which refers to the Public Tertiary Institutions. So, they are recognised tertiary institutions and on the MIE Council apart from the representatives of the University of Mauritius we shall also have a representative of another Tertiary Education Institution found in the Schedule of the TEC Act.
Furthermore, when we talk about the tertiary education institution that will be on the Council, it will be important to mention that the MIE Council acts independently and has a number of members on the Council which includes the academics of the MIE. Furthermore, it is almost the same and comparable to the Council of the University of Mauritius when nine members are also appointed by the Prime Minister and three of whom are from the public bodies. So, we are not moving very much away from the normal set up of University Councils.
I have also noted that hon. Baloomoody is very worried about quality assurance. Let me state that the Tertiary Education Commission carries out quality audits in each and every tertiary institution of the island. The next audit for the MIE is scheduled for next year. Now, the audits that are carried out have panels coming from international tertiary institutions. The last audit made had professors from the University of Sydney, Australia, professors from the Lesotho Polytechnique and professors from India as well. So, we do have a proper Quality Assurance Unit. However, I would like to stress that, with the coming of the Higher Education Bill, we are going to have an additional quality assurance agency which would be an arm of the TEC, but this will be something to come.
Now, the hon. Member talked about the role of the MIE and the way the MIE had been carrying out its training courses for teachers. Let me add that the MIE has, as to date, trained more than 50,000 educators in the island. We must not forget that at a time when teachers did not have the qualifications required, they were even referred to as uncertificated teachers. The MIE carried out a very important role of upgrading their qualifications. And today, we can be proud in saying that we no longer have uncertificated teachers. They are all qualified teachers and the MIE has done a big job. I must say that we need to commend the MIE for the work that has been done over the years.
One thing more, I have heard hon. Members state and query about the autonomy of the MIE. Let me say that for more than 44 years, the MIE has been giving diplomas, postgraduate certificates, and lately along with the University of Mauritius, B.Ed. degrees and Masters in Education degrees. The MIE has been working in a totally independent and autonomous manner. I don’t think we can lift a finger or say that there has been any form of interference on the part of the Ministry in the work of the MIE. I believe that if there is an institution in Mauritius where we have absolutely no problem in the recognition of qualifications, it is certainly the MIE. Today, all our teachers, from pre-primary to the secondary sector in the schools, have undergone training at the MIE. It is only recently that the University of Middlesex and the UTM are providing certain courses at pre-primary level in their institutions.
Madam Speaker, talking about the academic Council of the MIE, the MIE presently has got 103 lecturers out of which 30 are PhD holders, 23 are currently doing their PhD and 71 lecturers with their Master’s degree. And I think that the MIE has sufficient academics for it to run the courses. I must also say that if today we are giving the MIE the degree awarding status, we must not forget that the MIE is already running the B.Ed. courses. All the assessments and evaluations are being done by the MIE. The only thing that the UOM is doing is awarding the degree because the MIE does not have this power today. With this Bill, we are giving the MIE this possibility.
Now, I have already mentioned that the University of Mauritius, the academics from there will still remain on the board, so we have no problem on that. The MIE will continue to function this way. One of the hon. Members mentioned the presence of the Chairman of the PSC as a Council member. I see no problem in that. The PSC is the main recruiting body in the island, and I think that the presence of the Chairperson will enable an understanding of the training programmes and facilities. The processing of the schemes of services and recruitment process will thus be facilitated.
I think it was hon. Fowdar who had mentioned that the TEC informed him that it was a decision of the Ministry. Let me inform the House that the Ministry goes by what TEC gives as report. The report of the TEC on the MIE has been correct and we have received written green light agreement by the TEC for the provision of this awarding status to the MIE. Furthermore, talking about quality assurance, as to whether the MIE’s degrees would be recognised or whether it will get international recognition, I mentioned in my speech that already Mauritians having diplomas from the MIE, their diplomas are recognised in Canada and Australia and they are also recruited to work in schools over there. So, we have no problem with that. I don’t see why now that the MIE will be able to award degrees that it will pose a problem.
I also heard someone saying that students are failing, that the percentage of pass in CPE, SC and HSC was going down and he is putting that on the back of the teachers or on the back of the MIE. I have also heard a representative from the MMM party, in Press conferences, stating, underlying and laying emphasis on the fact that there is a decline in the results of students at SC and HSC level. Let me remind the hon. Member that in spite of the fact that we were in Government together between 2000 and 2005, a decision taken by the then Minister of Education was to take away the pedagogical role of the PSSA at that time and he was hoping to set up, what we call, the national inspectorate. This was never done, Madam Speaker. For more than 10 years, 17 years now, there has been no quality assurance in our private secondary schools. We have been relying on the Quality Assurance Unit of the Ministry to do the work of both the private sector and the public institutions. And we now query and ask questions about the decline in the results of students! Now, this is something I would like to stress that it is only now that we are reinstauring pedagogical inspection, that we shall be reinstauring pedagogical inspection for the private sector. It is totally incorrect to just put it on the back of teachers or on the back of the MIE, to just mention that the decline in the results of the students is due to the institution rather than to some ill thought decisions.
Madam Speaker, talking about infrastructure, I have heard someone talking about whether the MIE is capable and will be able to fulfil its new obligations. The MIE has got its structure. There is a new building that has been put up. It will be of about 7,000 ft.² with 20 more classes there. The MIE has got its Academic Board, I have told you earlier, with so many academics. And just like in the case of the University of Mauritius, the Academic Board of the MIE has got the heads of the different schools at the MIE and they have the representatives from UOM and representatives, now, from another tertiary education institution. So, we must not give the impression that the MIE will not be in a position to deliver. This is not the case. I believe that in a country where degree awarding status has been given to all types of institutions, giving the MIE this status was long overdue.
Madam Speaker, having said that, I would also like to mention that the Academic Board of the MIE works in a systematic and transparent manner and there has never been interference from the Ministry. I believe that the MIE will continue to function in this way and it already has, as I have said earlier, it’s mechanism of programme validation, its call board, its award committee and its academic committee. So, there is no need to worry on that particular matter.
Madam Speaker, I have heard many hon. Members from that side of the House talking about quality assurance. I would like to state that the Tertiary Education Commission has got this role. Quality assurance, in all our tertiary education institutions, is the functioning, the role of the Tertiary Education Commission and they will continue to do so. As I have said, it is not only the MIE but all the other institutions as well. And with the coming of th High Education Bill, this will be further strengthened.
I also heard hon. Ramano talked about whether the MIE is being given this attribute to fulfil the needs of teachers, educators and lecturers or to ensure that teachers in the primary can teach Grades 7, 8 and 9. This is not at all the case. What we are doing is that we are trying to ensure that all our teachers get the right training, la formation requise so that they may deliver better.
Madam Speaker, I just like to add that it is unanimously agreed, in the House, that continuous professional development of teachers and upgrading of teaching qualifications is a necessity for quality education sector. The parcours of the MIE since its inception in 1973 speaks through itself. It has proved that it is capable to take on new challenges and is ready and equipped to graduate into a degree awarding institution, whether in terms of human resource capability or infrastructure and facilities or quality assurance framework, it has all of them. This institutional strengthening is yet another landmark in the education landscape, it creates a win-win situation for all our educators, pupils at large and the MIE and its staff.
Let me add Madam Speaker, if, as mentioned by some of the Members, on the other side of the House, no one before had agreed to do so, I must say that I am proud today to be able to do so for the MIE. The MIE deserved it and it will now have this degree awarding status.
Madam Speaker, I wish to place on record that the contribution of the MIE towards the successful implementation of the Nine-Year Continuous Basic Education has been considerable, whether in terms of elaboration of the National Curriculum Framework (NCF), the writing of textbooks, the training of staff and all the digitilisation of the classroom and teaching materials, MIE has done its job. MIE will continue to play a significant role in pursuing the educational reforms and in the delivery of programmes that will not only allow teachers to upgrade their qualifications, but will also meet the career expectation of the teaching profession.
May I add, Madam Speaker, because someone mentioned that in the Audit Report of 2013, there were certain recommendations made, there were certain, let’s say, grey zones noted. But let me say that was in 2013, we are now in 2017 and MIE has followed all the recommendations and has improved the status of affairs within the institution.
Madam Speaker, I would like to highlight that the amendments to be brought to the MIE Act will bring new change to its governance structure. I have said earlier and I am saying it again, the MIE will continue to function in collaboration whenever it decides to do so with other tertiary institutions, the way it is doing it right now with the Brighton University for its PhD courses and someone has also asked whether MIE will start with a Bachelor’s course. Obviously, it will start with a Bachelor’s course, but it is already working in collaboration with Brighton and other universities for PhD courses.
Moreover, the Institute will pursue its strategic partnership with overseas Universities as far, of course, as development, quality assurance, curriculum development and research are concerned, thereby providing international validation and recognition to its degree programme. It will also continue to be subject to quality assurance procedures as per the Tertiary Education Commission’s framework.
Madam Speaker, conferring a degree awarding status to the MIE will be a milestone in the education sector. By ensuring the professionalisation of educators, we are also ensuring that the reform process is well-anchored for an enhanced quality in teaching and learning.
Furthermore, the output of the MIE in terms of graduates and quality of these graduates will expand so that the education sector will be manned by more and more graduates, a trend that already prevails in countries having a good education system.
Madam Speaker, through this Bill, we are not only strengthening and modernising our main teacher training institution, but also investing in our human resource by ensuring their continuous professional development and career advancement.
Madam Speaker, let me say that some of the members mentioned whether there will be a change in their salaries. Let me add that salary structure is determined by the PRB and will be done by the PRB.
Madam Speaker, with these words, I commend the Bill to the House.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time and committed.
(Madam Speaker in the Chair)
The Mauritius Institute of Education (Amendment) Bill (No. II of 2017) was considered and agreed to.
On the Assembly resuming with Madam Speaker in the Chair, Madam Speaker reported accordingly.
On motion made and seconded, the Mauritius Institute of Education (Amendment) Bill (No. II of 2017) was read the third time and passed.
MAURITIUS INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION
MAURITIUS INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION - DEPUTY DIRECTOR – POST (24/04/18)
(No. B/294) Dr. A. Boolell (Second Member for Belle Rose & Quatre Bornes)
asked the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research whether, in regard to the Mauritius Institute of Education, she will state if the post of the Deputy Director thereof is vacant.
Reply: I am informed that the post of Deputy Director at the Mauritius Institute of
Education (MIE) is currently vacant.
However, the MIE Council has approved the filling of the vacancy in respect of this position along with other posts, and necessary action is being taken by the MIE accordingly.
INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION
WRITTEN ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MAURITIUS INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION – AUDITING –
(No. B/705) Mr V. Baloomoody (Third Member for GRNW
& Port Louis West) asked the
Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific
Research whether, in regard to the investigation carried out by a team of
auditors of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in October 2018
into the alleged case of fraud at the Mauritius Institute of Education, she
will state the –
(a) extent thereof detected as at to date,
indicating the quantum thereof recovered, if any, and
(b) actions, if any, taken against the
officer/s incriminated therein.
Reply: The MIE had
reported to the Ministry on 04 June 2018 that following an internal audit
carried out by the Internal Auditor of the MIE, it was found that an officer in
the grade of Assistant Financial Officer had been involved in a case of
misappropriation of funds.
The MIE reported the matter to the Police and to ICAC.
Meanwhile, a Transaction Audit Trail was carried out on the
accounting software system to determine the extent of tampering effected on the
system. On 20 June 2018, the Finance
Section of the MIE and the Internal Audit Section of the Ministry also
undertook an in-depth investigation into the Finance Division to ascertain the
extent of funds misappropriated.
Moreover, an independent team of four external auditors from the
Ministry and from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development was
appointed to conduct a full scale audit at the MIE, as from 01 August 2018, to
determine the extent to which funds had been misappropriated and to propose
appropriate checks and balances to be put in place for greater accountability
and to eliminate risks of fraud and malpractices.
In addition, the Office of Public Sector Governance was tasked to
put in place a robust system at the MIE for greater control and security,
better checks and balances and improved governance to safeguard the assets of
the organisation. It was also assigned
the responsibility to set up a mechanism for the detection of fraud and any
other irregularities. The Report of the
OPSG was submitted on 26 February 2019 and recommendations thereof are being
implemented at the level of the MIE.
With regard to part (a) of the question, I am informed that
investigation has revealed that the amount of funds misappropriated stood at
Rs2,565,386. On 18 and 21 June 2018, the officer concerned refunded Rs900,000
to the MIE through two (2) bank cheques.
The Police has informed that the enquiry is in progress.
Concerning part (b) of the question, the Attorney General’s Office
has served a Mise en Demeure in June
2019 to him for the settlement of the remaining sum of Rs1,665,386. The matter is being closely followed up.
INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION
WRITTEN ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION – TACTILE GIANT SCREENS
(No. B/706) Mr V. Baloomoody (Third Member for GRNW
& Port Louis West) asked the
Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific
Research whether, in regard to the acquisition of some 24 tactile giant screens
to the tune of Rs8 m. by the Mauritius Institute of Education, she will, for
the benefit of the House, obtain from the MIE, information as to if bids were
launched therefor and, if not, why not.
Reply: I am
informed that a bidding exercise was carried out by the Mauritius Institute of
Education (MIE) for the procurement of the following equipment to be used in
classrooms, in the context of the introduction of innovative and interactive
technology and systems for enhanced teaching –
(i) 21 Interactive Touch Flat Panel Display of 65 inches,
(ii) 3 Interactive Touch Flat Panel Display of 85 inches.
launched on 13 October 2017 (12 panels of 65 inches), 18 October 2018 (9 panels
of 65 inches) and 23 October 2018 (3 panels of 85 inches).
tender exercises which involved invitation to bidders and evaluation of bids,
the contracts were awarded by MIE to the lowest compliant bidders for the sum
of Rs1,438,374, Rs1,086,729.30 and Rs714,143.10, respectively. Hence, the acquisition of the 24 tactile
screens was not to the tune of Rs8 m.
The touch panels
are integrated units that consist of a touch screen. It has a computer embedded
with windows and android operational systems, along with provision for Wi-Fi.
The MIE has done away with standard projectors and laptops and opted for a
device that allows for interactive classrooms with lesser investment and more
possibilities in line with the requirements for the 21st Century
I further wish to highlight that the Quality
Audit Report of 2013 on the MIE recommended the upgrading and further
development of ICT facilities and internet connectivity at the MIE. It is in this context and in line with its
Strategic Plan that MIE has taken a series of initiatives to strengthen its
provision of technology based content delivery.
INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION
MIE – MS P. C. – APPOINTMENT
(No. B/764) Mr V. Baloomoody (Third Member for
GRNW & Port Louis West) asked the Minister of Education and Human
Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research whether, in regard to Ms
P. C., she will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Mauritius
Institute of Education, information as to the date of appointment thereof,
indicating the –
(a) post occupied;
(b) qualifications and experience held, and
(c) terms and conditions of appointment.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr
Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am informed by the MIE that following the advertisement
for the post of Lecturer at the MIE in December 2017, a selection exercise was
carried out. Ms P. C. was offered appointment as Lecturer thereat...
The Deputy Speaker: Order,
please! No crosstalking!
...on 20 April 2018.
requirement for the post of Lecturer as per the Scheme of Service is as follows
Two ‘A’ levels;
relevant degree from a recognised institution;
A minimum of two years relevant post
qualification experience or a postgraduate qualification normally obtained
after one year of full-time study.
regards part (b) of the question, I am further informed that Ms P. C. holds the
following qualifications in line with the Scheme of Service –
a Higher School Certificate;
a Bachelor of Arts in Economics;
an MA Economics, and
a Post-Graduate Diploma in Educational
also worked as Educator in the private secondary school. And as for part (c) of
the question, she has been offered appointment as Lecturer as per the terms and
conditions of the PRB, she was on probation for a period of one year and
subsequently she was confirmed to the post of Lecturer following satisfactory
Mr Baloomoody: The hon.
Minister has chosen only a bit, what suits her with regard to the qualification
required, has quoted – I do not want say that you are misleading the House...
The Deputy Speaker: Put your
question, hon. Baloomoody!
Mr Baloomoody: ...but
probably, you have been misled by the MIE.
of the main conditions to be appointed as Lecturer of the MIE is that the
priority will be given to candidates with higher appropriate pedagogical
qualification and this lady does not have any pedagogical qualification. She
The Deputy Speaker: Let him
finish, and then...
Mr Baloomoody: She has a PG
Diploma in Educational Administration and has never worked in a tertiary
education institution. She has worked at Presidency or Imperial College, she
has been teaching Economics to Grade 10, Grade 13.
The Deputy Speaker: You are
providing information. Put your question!
Mr Baloomoody: No, but the
hon. Minister wants us to believe that she is qualified; I must say that she is
not qualified for the post...
The Deputy Speaker: You are
providing information. Ask your question!
Mr Baloomoody: ...she has
been working at Imperial College for nine months.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr
Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am going to table the Scheme of Service for Lecturer and
you will note that in the Scheme of Service they mentioned that –
“In addition a
minimum of two years relevant post qualification experience or a postgraduate
qualification normally obtained after one year of full-time study.”
qualification. Teaching, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, is part of pedagogical
So, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I table
the Scheme of Service.
Mr Baloomoody: Can I ask the
hon. Minister, how is it that this lady, when she was appointed, she was given
five increments? I have the letter of appointment - five increments – when, in
fact, teachers, who are teaching, the Lecturers who are teaching there with
more than five or six years’ experience, are earning less than what she is
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr
Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am not aware of the increments being given...
The Deputy Speaker: Hon.
Baloomoody, are you tabling, please?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr
Deputy Speaker, Sir, I have not finished.
Mr Baloomoody: I am sorry,
let me table.
The Deputy Speaker: Let him table!
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr
Deputy Speaker, Sir, whatever the conditions of employment that the MIE has
adopted, is based on PRB recommendations, nothing more nothing less.
Mr Baloomoody: She has been
appointed. On the day of her appointment she has been given five increments,
which means she is earning more than people who have been teaching at the MIE
for more than six years. I table that, five increments once appointed.
apart from that lady, there were people with PhD degrees applied, PhD from the
University of Mauritius. Will the hon. Minister be surprised to learn that
under the signature of Dr. Varma, the Director writing to the EOC, states the
following, listen to that MIE will
award Degree University very soon. This is what they say when comparing with
the education. The MIE is a higher institution for teacher training, the
courses offered by the University of Mauritius does not match our needs and
requirement. So, is the MIE today telling the people, telling the nation that
the degree earned by the students from University of Mauritius, does not meet
the MIE requirement level. I table a letter which was produced and signed by
Dr. N. Varma, I do not know whether he has got doctorate in Mauritius, Dr. O.
N. Varma, the Director.
The Deputy Speaker: You want to
table two letters now?
Mr Baloomoody: Yes, I have
already tabled both of them.
is the hon. Minister agreeable to the contents of the letter of Dr. Varma that
the University of Mauritius degrees does not meet the requirement of the MIE?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr
Deputy Speaker, Sir, I cannot comment on the opinion of Dr. Varma, to start
with, and secondly, talking about the requirements, etc., of that particular
person and referring to the letter by some other applicants having a PhD, I
would like to remind the hon. Member that there is a case at the Supreme Court
and this is why I did not comment on this particular part. If there is a case
of the Supreme Court on that particular appointment, I wonder whether it is
proper to have a discussion in it at the level of the Assembly.
The Deputy Speaker: Next
Baloomoody: This lady, according to the scheme and duties and credentials
of staff, of lecturer of the MIE, they should have - pedagogical, she does not
have. She has no experience in the use of ICT in performing her duties, she has
never confirmed in a substantive capacity, only nine months’ experience at
Imperial College and the past performance relating to other cognitive duties,
she cannot be assessed.
she does not even meet the basic requirement of being a Lecturer and she has
been appointed Lecturer over the head of top qualified personnel and she is
earning more than those who are lecturing for the last seven months. And is
that not protège quelqu’un ou quelqu’une
on that matter?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr
Deputy Speaker, Sir, I refer the hon. Member to the statement I made in
Parliament last week. I have got nothing to do with the appointment and there
is no point of him saying that she was favoured or not, because her selection
was carried out by the Appointments Committee and if even there is any maldonne, obviously, I am going to query
the MIE. And anyway, stating if anyone gets appointed by an institution, coming
in Parliament and stating that it is because he or she is related to so and so,
and let me say that I do not even know the person; that person has been
appointed by the MIE, and I think it is very unfair to come and talk about a
person who is not Parliament and to make all sorts of allegation on that
particular person. I trust the MIE has done its recruitment in the proper way,
and if ever there is any maldonne, I
am going to take them to task.
Mr Baloomoody: I have not
made any allegation. I have come with facts and figures, and documentary
evidence to substantiate my question.
The Deputy Speaker: Next
question, hon. Baloomoody.
I have said
next question. Okay, on a point of order, please!
Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the hon. Member just mentioned
that this lady was appointed and given five increments on the day of her
The Deputy Speaker: Is it a point
of order or a point of clarification?
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: A
point of explanation, a point of clarification. He mentioned that in the
letter, that lady was given five increments. I have just seen the letter,
nowhere in that letter is such a mention made. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would
send this letter back to the Table.
The Deputy Speaker: Next
question, hon. Baloomoody.
Mr Baloomoody: ...on that
letter, it is written – I have a copy.
The Deputy Speaker:
That is why…
Mr Baloomoody: Let me quote
from that letter. Let me quote from that letter –
salary will be at the rate of Rs35,275…”
The Deputy Speaker:
This is not acceptable hon. Baloomoody! Please, take your seat!
Take your seat!
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: It
is the salary scale!
The Deputy Speaker: Are
we going to get into an argument on a document that was tabled in the House? That is why I say let’s move on to
the next question, please!
question, hon. Baloomoody!
Mr Baloomoody: I already
mentioned, but the hon. Minister turned up.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please!