The whole Ruel Reid saga over his secondment terms from his role as principal of Jamaica College to becoming minister of education, youth and information in 2016 was a political scandal that was clearly avoidable.
· Ruel Reid steps down as JC principal – Observer 20th November 2021
· Ruel Reid gets $23.3 million settlement – Gleaner 24th November 2021
The fact that it took this long for Reid to finally resign from JC last weekend is an indictment of the leadership, judgement and decision making displayed by the powers that be in local politics, education and business.
Take away Reid’s current issues in the courts following his removal from his cabinet post and subsequent charge for fraud, prime minister Andrew Holness and his close advisers must have been aware that such secondment terms for a public servant was wrong to begin with.
How can senior savy government and political circles think it is good practice to have a public servant such as Reid appointed to a government ministerial position with control and oversight of the industry he is seconded from?
The board of directors at an elite secondary school such as Jamaica College should have made it clear to the government from 2016 that they intend to move on from Reid permanently.
In 2019 it came to light – that despite being a government minister since 2016 – Reid was still residing at the official residence for the principal of Jamaica College. This smacked of poor leadership on the part of Jamaica College again.
But Reid should have displayed some moral fibre of his own and leave JC’s principal’s official residence of his own accord and allow his (acting) successor – Wayne Robinson – to move in.
I for one was baffled at times of how government minister Reid kept linking himself to JC issues in this period. Such as when Reid’s government committed $JM 20 million to the development of a running track at JC in 2018/19.
Reid should have been wise enough to stay away from anything to do with Jamaica College. But that’s super-sonic egotism for you.
Even Reid’s permanent secretary at the education ministry should have seen to it that he had no contact with JC. Yet permanent secretaries at the education ministry are another twisted set of sagas of its own in recent times.
What was even more bizarre was when government minister Reid started to go after Keisha Hayle, principal of Padmore Primary who had publicly come out in support of the opposition People’s National Party (PNP)
But Reid is something else. In 2019 he wanted parliament to introduce a code of conduct for educators who are active in politics. (Huh?)
One of the areas Reid was keen on with this suggested code of conduct was the monitoring of the social media activities of politically active educators. This drew outrage and in time was the beginning of Reid’s fall from grace.
- Reid wants code of conduct for educators in politics – Gleaner Jan, 2019
But the lesson to learn from this drawn-out kerfuffle is that public servants must quit their full time public sector role if he/she is appointed a government minister or even a paid government advisor.
Such a schoolboy error by all connected is shambolic and says a lot about leadership, accountability and self-interest by those in charge who talk a good game to the youths (e.g. on critical thinking) but do the complete opposite.
One sector in Jamaica that has long been dogged by the perception of corruption, conflicts of interest, favouritsm and maladministration has been education.
Numerous reports from the Auditor General and exposés in the Gleaner have raised questions of how millions in public funds have been administered by senior management officials in the sector.
If the education sector is so riddled with such failings and chaos what hope for the masses of young people facing challenges over literacy and numeracy issues. Especially when lack of public funding can be a major stumbling block to their educational development.