Friday, August 29, 2008

Government Organisation and Functions

Unit 2

In Unit 1 you were introduced to the concept of the school as an organisation. In this unit, we will look at the government as another type of organisation and how this is likely to affect the quality of leadership in your school. The unit should also enable you to relate the application of the general principles of management to the running of public affairs in Guyana.

Individual study time: 2 hours

Learning outcomes
After working through this unit you should be able to:
· relate your responsibilities and duties to the functions of the central government ministries and organisations responsible for education and training
· advise teachers on their roles, responsibilities and duties in relation to functions of government
· promote responsible citizenship based on your understanding of the legislative, administrative and judicial provisions in your country
· abide by the laws of the land while discharging your official executive duties.

What is government?
A government is the part of the organisation of a state which has powers to legislate, that is to make laws. The purpose of a government is to promote and propagate justice for all the citizens of a country for the public good.

The legal framework of a government is the constitution of the country. A constitution describes all the constituent parts of the government, their composition and their powers and functions. It also states and guarantees the fundamental rights and freedoms of each individual.

It is important that you should realise that as headteacher you have a local role in determining the quality of governance in your country. Consider what this role might be?

You may help to determine the quality of government locally through voting, but also as a community leader. Although some people maintain that the social position of the head in the local community has diminished in recent years, this depends on the view heads have of themselves and what they can, and perhaps should, contribute to the wider community. You should be able to think of many cases of heads who have done this, and usually you will also find that their schools are recognised as good. By involving staff and pupils in the management of your school you Will be demonstrating in a practical way how (on a smaller scale) democracy may work.

Unitary and federal systems of government

Three different types of decentralisation may be recognised:

¨ Deconcentration The dispersion of authority to branch offices, for example, the payment of teachers' salaries at district level.

¨ Devolution: Powers transferred by law to sub‑national bodies, for example, tax raising powers given to regions.

¨ Delegation: Central powers 'lent' to local authorities (but readily revoked without legislation), for example, regional education offices responsible for the opening of new schools.
In unitary systems of government, the central authority has all the principal powers of the state. The decentralisation of functions to regions may be done through deconcentration, devolution and delegation from the central authority.

In federal systems of government, provinces or states have powers delegated by the constitution. The United States of America is an example of this.

With increased demands for democracy, for people to take more deci­sions on matters affecting their lives, many unitary systems of government are increasing levels of decentralisation of some powers and functions to the administrative regions, districts and local authorities and also to schools.

Activity 2.1
(1) Do we have a federal or unitary system of government in Guyana?
(2) Give three examples of how authority has been decentralised in Guyana.

Guyana has a unitary system of government and is going through the process of decentralisation with much authority placed in the hands of the Regional Democratic Councils. However, educational policy is still created by the central Ministry of Education. In many countries, governments still maintain quite tight central control over most aspects of education. However, in Guyana, there are considerable moves to provide more local management and authority to schools.

The Ministry of Education in Guyana has gone through a process of decentralisation which will demand that regions will be accountable for the decisions they make which affect the quality of education.

The arms of government
Many countries have three main arms of government. In management, this is a principle involving the separation of powers. The three arms are:

¨ the Legislature
¨ the Judiciary
¨ the Executive.

The Legislature
Parliament is made up of the President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the National Assembly. Elected, and maybe also nominated, Members of Parliament who belong to various political parties constitute the National Assembly.

Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, Parliament has the power to make laws for the peace, order, liberty and good governance of the country. Its main functions are:

¨ legislation and formulation of policies
¨ control of the public budget and expenditure
¨ control of the executive
¨ representation of the people on matters of national concern

The Speaker presides over meetings of the National Assembly. The Speaker is elected from among persons who are members of the National Assembly, excluding the President, The Prime Minister, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, and the Attorney‑General. The Speaker is an ex‑officio member of the National Assembly.

The Principal Administrative Officer of the National Assembly is the Clerk to the National Assembly. He is responsible for the management of the staff of the National Assembly, its finances, and all other matters relating to the operation of the National Assembly.

The Judiciary
The judicial arm of government settles disputes which arise out of the laws made by the Legislature. When such laws are administered by the Executive, disagreements inevitably occur, which need to be settled by an independent body, the Judiciary. This should ensure that justice prevails. Laws are intended to guide and regulate the behaviour of individuals in society for their own common good, and to serve individual interests without fear or favour. Justice is administered in courts of law where civil and criminal cases are heard before a judge or magistrate and with lawyers arguing for each side: the prosecution and the defence.

The Chief Justice and other senior judges are appointed by the President on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission. Once appointed, it is not easy to remove a judge. The security of tenure for the office of the judge is stated in the constitution. The Chief Justice is the head of the Judiciary.

Types of dispute
Civil disputes between individuals and the state may be settled through the courts according to the provisions of the law. The individual is protected against the excesses of government through the arbitrary action of govern­ment officials. Civil disputes may also occur between individuals.

In criminal cases, the state prosecutes a person for an alleged crime. The sentence for those found guilty is within the discretion of the court.

Thus the Judiciary acts as the guardian of the constitution in both civil and criminal matters. The Judiciary makes sure that the action of the offi­cials of the Executive are in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. Thus it is that Acts of Parliament are seen to be constitutional in both word and deed.

Independence of the Judiciary is ensured through the security of tenure of judges. Salaries for judges are a permanent charge on the Consolidated Fund (Treasury) and are not subject to debate by Parliament in the National Assembly, except where the salaries of judges as a professional body are to be reviewed. “Sub judice” cases, that is cases which are before the court, are not subject to discussion outside courts. Questions and debates in the National Assembly concerning cases in court are not allowed by the standing orders. Like Members of Parliament in the National Assembly, judges in the courts enjoy special privileges and cannot be sued for anything they do while offi­cially discharging their duties. Any judge or magistrate can decide a case without any fear of recrimination for the decision made in a court of law. Decisions made by judges are legally binding and cannot be criticised in public. Such decisions can be reviewed, however, in a superior court of law on appeal by the aggrieved parties. People may be tried and convicted for contempt of court when they are found accused of discussing “sub judice” cases outside the law courts.

Module 7, The Governance of Schools, also touches on the relationship between schools and the law.

The Executive
The executive arm of the government administers and enforces the laws which are enacted by the National Assembly.
The Executive consists of:
¨ the President, who is the Head of State and Government; the Commander‑in‑Chief of all the Armed Forces
¨ the Prime Minister
¨ Ministers and Deputy Ministers: all these are members of the National Assembly
¨ all public servants.

Headteachers and teachers in Guyana are employed by the Teachers' Service Commission. In any case, all civil servants, judges, teachers, doctors, who are employed by the government and its agencies are public servants.

Some of the important bodies in the Executive include:

¨ the Cabinet and Government Ministries including Finance and Education
¨ the Office of the Attorney‑General
¨ the Public Service
¨ Regional Democratic Councils
¨ government agencies and state corporations
¨ non‑ministerial departments
¨ Please note that the Audit Department is an autonomous body

The Cabinet
The Cabinet consist of the President, the Prime Minister, Ministers and the Attorney‑General. The function of the Cabinet is to assist and advise the President on matters pertaining to the running of the country. The Cabinet considers and formulates the entire government policy. In the Cabinet, the principle of collective responsibility to the National Assembly is empha­sised. All things done by or under the authority of the President, the Prime Minister or any other Minister in execution of their office may be regarded as the best joint effort of the government. The members of the Cabinet are expected to act together as a team and speak with one voice.

The Attorney General
The Attorney General is an ex‑officio member of the National Assembly. He or she is the principal legal adviser to the government and is a member of the Cabinet with ministerial status. All the legal needs of government ministries and departments are provided by the Attorney General's chambers. The security of tenure of the office of the Attorney General is provided for in the Constitution. The head of a government school may have the representation of the Attorney‑General in all legal matters of an official nature.

The Public Service
The Public Service is made up of the civil service, the regional authorities and the government agencies. The Public Service Commission is the personnel agency of the government, involved, for example in all recruit­ment and disciplinary matters.

City and Town Councils
Georgetown is governed and administered by the Georgetown City Council. Other towns in the country, such as Linden, New Amsterdam, Anna Regina and others have Town Councils which fulfil the dame functions as the City Council but on a smaller scale. Local councillors are elected to these Councils.

Regional Democratic Councils
These are the democratic bodies outside of the City of Georgetown and the main towns. They exist mainly in rural areas and are composed of elected councillors, who are expected to control and administer local government areas.

Government Agencies
These agencies are state corporations which are established through Acts of Parliament in pursuance of government policy. The corpo­rations are manned by non‑civil servants but are in close co‑operation with and under the supervision of the parent government ministries.

The civil service is divided into ministries and depart­ments. Each of these is responsible for some particular aspect of government activity.
The political head of the government ministry is the Minister, who is constitutionally and politically responsible and accountable to the National Assembly for its operation. The Minister is responsible for the general policy, direction, and control of the ministry.

The Permanent Secretary is the administrative head of the ministry. S(he) is the chief executive, accounting officer, and the authorising officer in a ministry for all operational and administrative functions. Beneath the Permanent Secretary there are Deputies who provide professional advisory services to the Permanent Secretary and to the Minister, as well as administer their fields of responsibility.

There are many different types of ministries, which may be broadly categorised into:

¨ Government policy co‑ordination ministries: These are primarily concerned with the formulation of high level policy and co‑ordination of func­tions and operations of other government ministries and departments. These ministries include: the Office of the President, the Office of the Prime Minister, the Treasury, the Ministry of Planning and National Development, the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Administration.

¨ The service and welfare ministries: These include Education, Sport and Culture, Health, Public Works, Agriculture, etc.

The structure of a government ministry varies in matters of detail but generally, in most ministries, below the Permanent Secretary, there are one or more professional or technical divisions dealing with specialised areas. For example, there are administrative divisions to deal with Finance, Accounts, Supply Services, Personnel Matters, Planning and Development, Research and Evaluation.

In the Ministry of Education in Guyana, there is a Chief Education Officer (CEO) who has overall responsibility for the delivery of education, standards and quality in the Guyanese Education system. There are Deputy Chief Education Officers (DCEOs) with specific responsibilities such as administration, monitoring and evaluation and development. In a third layer, there are the Assistant Chief Education Officers (ACEOs) who have a much more focused responsibility such as the different levels of education (primary, secondary etc), inspection and curriculum support. In Guyana, the latter is mainly provided by the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD), a semi-autonomous arm of the Ministry of Education.

Within each ministry there will be ministerial management committees which are convened as and when required, for example:

· a Consultative Committee chaired by the Minister
· a Management Committee chaired by the Permanent Secretary
· an Advisory Committee and Tender Board chaired by the Deputy Permanent Secretary
· a Training Committee
· Directorate Management Committees for each of the various professional/ technical groups.

All these committees exist to ensure the effective management of a govern­ment ministry. Task Forces and ad hoc committees may also be set up to look into specific problems and issues.

Guyana Ministry of Education
Decentralization in the Ministry of Education, as well as three other Ministries began in 1980’s. This system of government involved the division of the country into ten Administrative Regions as it pursued a democratic process of national development. It was believed that more involvement and greater development would take place at the Regional level when the state discharges some of the responsibilities to these bodies.
This process met with varying levels of success over the years as roles and functions of central Ministry and the Regional system became clearer.

Responsibility of the Ministry of Education:
1) National Education Strategic Planning.
2) Policy formulation and development.
3) Resource Mobilization.
4) Providing centralized services such as teacher training and development, school inspection, curriculum development, text / exercise books, school feeding, administration of examination and reporting, setting of Academic and Non Academic Standards.
5) Monitoring, Evaluating, Reporting and Development of the entire education delivery process.

The actual implementation of the education programme in geographical Guyana is the responsibility of the ten (10) Regional Democratic Councils, (Georgetown is a special educational district that is presently directly managed by the MOE). This is evident since each region has its own education budget and is responsible for education, staffing and infrastructure. Indeed, the education departments in the regions are not accountable to the MOE but to the RDCs, which in turn reports to the Ministry of Local Government.

The MOE understands that education delivery is very complex involving many variables. However, we believe that much greater value can be gained if school leadership improves, that is, if all the factors which impact on school leadership are improved.

This required:

¨ Improved planning, monitoring and evaluating at the central level.
¨ Clear delineation of the responsibilities of the regional and national authorities.
¨ Better supervision of the schools system by the Regional Education Departments
¨ Development and implementation of education plans, programmes and projects.
¨ Designing education sector plans and strategy; and overseeing its implementation.
¨ Widespread stakeholder participation at the regional, sub-regional and school levels.
¨ Efficient day to day management of the school as an education unit.

The Political Head
The Minister of Education heads the MOE which has responsibility for establishing national education policy and the national curriculum for all administrative regions in the country. He has the authority over the educational system subject to Parliament and Cabinet. In addition, the MOE monitors education progress in all regions, and funds and distributes textbooks to all schools. MOE has its own budget, which is funded by allocation in the central government budget. The Teaching Service Commission is a semi-autonomous Government body not under the administrative control of the MOE, and is responsible for promotion, transfer, hiring, disciplining and dismissing of tenured teachers, throughout the country. Some schools are governed by School Boards which have similar functions to the T.S.C.

The Administrative Head
The Permanent Secretary is the Administrative Head of MOE who facilitates the efficient management of the MOE; acts as Advisor / Assistant to the Minister of Education in the formulation of policies and the preparation of Ministry’s annual work plan / programme, budget, annual report and provides responses to parliamentary question and motions. (S)he is assisted by two Deputy Permanent Secretaries (Finance and Admin), a Human Resource Manager and the Chief Planning Officer.

The Professional Head
The Chief Education Officer is the head of the professional arm of the Ministry of Education. Reporting to this officer are three (3) deputies: DCEO Policy Implementation and Monitoring unit, DCEO Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Development Unit, and DCEO (Technical Vocation Education and Training) and four (4) Assistant Chief Education Officers, three of whom have responsibilities for Monitoring Policy Implementation at the Nursery, Primary and Secondary Levels and a fourth, who is attached to the MERD Unit.

Activity 2.2
Either obtain an organisation chart for the Ministry of Education or, from the information provided above, draw one of your own. Indicate clearly your position on the chart as Headteacher and the lines of communication between you and the Minister.

In addition, four other officers: Director NCERD, Principal CPCE, Human Resource Manager and DPS (Admin) make up the Education Systems Committee (ESC). This committee has the overall responsibility for managing the entire education delivery process. This committee meets on average twice per month..

In all systems of government all ministries and departments are under political direction. In democratic systems, where the party in power has been chosen by popular vote in a public election held in free competition with other parties, Acts of Parliament and other statutes provide the rules which define how the education system is to be organised and managed. All public servants are accountable for their work, to Parliament and to the party in power.

The executive, judicial and legislative arms of government each provide a different balance in the operation of political power and its application to the government of our country. Thus, in theory, public servants including school heads should not be afraid of direct interference in the day‑to‑day management of their schools. In reality, a school head must be prepared to accommodate some political influence in the manner in which he or she manages the affairs of the school. This is an important point to bear in mind when considering school management functions, the topic of the next unit, Unit

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