The recent decisions of the Private Secondary Education Authority regarding the management of private colleges have given rise to strong protests from managers. The latter question the methods and choices made by the organization, demanding the resignation of its director, Mahesswarnath Luchoomun. The main person concerned affirms that he has “nothing to reproach himself for”.

Anger has been brewing for several months within the Private Secondary Education Authority (PSEA). The departure of the principal, Mahesswarnath (Kris) Luchoomun – the husband of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun – is increasingly being called for by managers of the country's grant-aided private colleges . The latter accuse him of having made “unilateral decisions” in relation to the management of establishments and “his lack of transparency”.

The formulas in question put in place by the organization were intended to modernize the education system. But the decisions taken are not to the taste of the protesters. Discontent grew following a series of measures deemed “excessive and unfair” by establishment managers. Measures which included not only the implementation of the “New Comprehensive Grant Formulae” (the sum granted by the PSEA to meet the needs of colleges; Editor’s note) but also the recruitment of teachers holding a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education .

This recruitment is very poorly received by those in charge of the establishments. They express concern that “the government is tapping into private colleges.” They believe that this measure compromises the quality of education, or even worse. “Are we heading towards the death of private colleges? The PSEA makes decisions without consultation, which destabilize the teaching staff and students,” we confide.

Asphyxiation of small colleges

The situation is increasingly delicate for the director of the PSEA. Internal sources say his days at the head of the organization are numbered. It is argued that he alienates a large faction of the rural electorate.

“The PSEA is financially suffocating small colleges. Around 50,000 students attend these establishments. This constitutes a very important electoral pool which cannot be underestimated,” we make clear. The recent press conferences of the Federation of Private College Managers (those of May 17 and June 1) constitute “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. The speakers were not kind to Shiv Luchoomun.

Reached by telephone on the afternoon of Monday June 3, 2024, the latter declared that he had “nothing to reproach himself for”. He insisted he is doing his job “the way it should be.” He remained firm in the face of this revolt. He pointed out that there have been calls for his resignation from the post of director of the PSEA, formerly called the Private Secondary Schools Authority, for 20 years.

“I don’t know if I’m in the hot seat,” he added. He said the reforms are necessary to guarantee quality education to students and prepare them for future challenges. “The PSEA is doing its job. It has a mandate that clearly states that it must disburse the funds properly. It is crucial to adapt our education system to new demands. Changes are often difficult to accept, but they are essential,” he argued.

The Federation of Private College Managers: “We live according to its whims”

The president of the Federation of Private College Managers does not mince his words: “We must not hide our faces. There is indeed deep anger within the education sector. In 2020, it experienced an area of ​​turbulence with a new subsidy formula. The Technical Working Group met but without the major stakeholders (in this case the Federation of Private College Managers; Editor's note) being represented! »

As a result, he continues, there is no communication or complementary consultations between the authorities and stakeholders, even less search for unanimity. “There are only unilateral decisions,” he laments.

He adds that the Explanatory Memorandum of the Private Secondary Schools Authority (Amendment) Bill (No. XIX of 2016), states that the aim is to “provide for a consultative mechanism for greater involvement of stakeholders”. However, the president of the federation points out that since the replacement of the PSSA by the PSEA, managers and staff of private colleges are no longer even represented on the board of directors.

“It’s difficult to understand this sudden change in the way we operate. With a lack of regular dialogue with education partners, interference in the management of our colleges, arbitrary cuts in college budgets and circulars that arouse discord, we have the impression that we live at the whim of whims of the director! With such conditions imposed, how can we make these 80 private colleges function properly and work on new projects in the interest of our future adults,” concludes the president of the federation.

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