Mauritius Times 60 Years —
There have been several causes célèbres involving persons unfitted to be school proprietors in recent years
The Ministry of Education has recently announced its plans for the registration of all private schools in England and Wales. This is a long-awaited and long overdue provision of the Education Act of 1944 that is to be fulfilled on September 30, 1957. It will enable the Ministry of Education to keep an eye on all private schools and to see that no improper person is running a school. There have been several causes célèbres involving persons unfitted to be school proprietors in recent years; and there has long been an insistent demand for the Ministry of Education to protect the interests of the children at such schools. The answer to the demand is the procedure recently announced.
Every private school will have to register with the Ministry of Education; except those private schools which by September 1957 are recognised as efficient, i.e. those with which the Minister of Education is satisfied after his inspectors have visited and reported on them. After March 31st 1958, it will be illegal to run a private school unless it has been registered.
After registering, those private schools which are not recognised as efficient will be inspected by the Ministry inspectors. If the inspectors are satisfied, the registration – which at first will be only provisional – will be confirmed. If the inspectors are not satisfied, a full scale inspection will take place, in which every aspect of the school will be looked into: curriculum, qualifications of staff, welfare of pupils, boarding arrangements, buildings and premises generally. If the school is unsatisfactory on any grounds, the proprietor will be warned by letter and will be given at least six months to remedy the matters complained of. The grounds on which a school may be found unsatisfactory are four: the premises or any part of them are unsuitable for a school; the accommodation is inadequate or unsuitable, having regard to the number, ages and sex of the pupils, efficient or suitable instruction is not being provided, having regard to the ages and sex of the pupils and the proprietor of the school, or any teacher employed by him, is not a fit and proper person to be a proprietor or teacher.
What does “not a proper person” mean? It means a person to whom “parents would not wish to entrust the care or education of a child if they knew his record”. There are types of misconduct, says the Minister of Education, which make a person unacceptable for the teaching profession.
If the matters complained of are not remedied, or if they are modified and the modified requirements are not met, then the school’s provisional registration will not be confirmed, and the school will be struck off the register. That means that it cannot operate as a school; if the proprietor continues to run it as school, he will be liable to fine or imprisonment.
The publication of the particulars which a school will in future have to satisfy if it is to continue to operate after March 31st 1958 has given great satisfaction. When all private schools are registered, the Ministry of Education will be able better to ensure that the level of education given there is up to standard. Too often there are suspicions nowadays that at many private schools in England and Wales, the level of instruction is not good. The full operation of the Minister’s latest proposals will either confirm or remove those suspicions.
In the debates on capital punishment, there was the suggestion that what Parliament decreed for the United Kingdom had its influence on the colonial territories. If there is any good foundation for that suggestion, then surely the introduction of registration of all private schools in England and Wales with the right to close down any which fall short of a desirable standard of, among other things, instruction should be followed by similar action in the colonies. There are numerous private secondary schools in Mauritius where, one suspects, the level of instruction is not high. They should be inspected and compelled to register, with the procedure analogous to that announced by the Minister of Education in London. It is even more imperative, of course, that some measure of inspection of the curriculum and staffs of Mauritius’ private secondary schools be undertaken: if children are to be compelled to leave the primary schools at a certain age, as the Governor’s Speech suggested in February, then the potential number of pupils for the private secondary schools will increase. In the interests of the children, as well as of their parents’ pockets, the private secondary schools should be carefully inspected and supervised.
- Published in print edition on 15 September 2017