Education Minister: Meeting with denominational boards cordial, productive

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly. FILE PHOTO –

Education Minister Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said a meeting on Thursday between the denominational boards, the Teaching Service Commission, and the ministry regarding discussions on the recruitment of teachers was productive.

Responding to queries sent by Newsday via WhatsApp, the minister said teacher recruitment for government assisted primary schools was discussed.

“The meeting was cordial and productive, and another is planned for next week for final clarifications.”

The meeting was the latest in a series of attempts to come to an agreement between the Teaching Service Commission and the boards as to how teachers will be recruited. The TSC has proposed that it will interview all teachers and then give the boards a list from which they can select teachers for their schools.

The boards are objecting as they insist that under the terms of the 1960 Concordat, they are allowed to select teachers for their schools who will uphold the characters and values of their schools.

On January 19, the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha in a pre-action protocol letter sent to the TSC and the Education Ministry claimed the change to the method of recruiting teachers was unlawful and unconstitutional. Following this a meeting was called between the three entities, which the boards exited. The spiritual leaders of each religion were then invited to Thursday’s meeting.

Catholic School Board CEO Sharon Mangroo said while an agreement was not reached at the meeting, further discussions had been agreed to by all parties.

“I think there’s more discussion to be had on the settled practice that exists now, and the connection between the settled practice and the new policies the Teaching Service Commission is implementing. The boards still remain with some concerns over managing the process but we remain very willing to continue discussions.”

Maha Sabha secretary general Vijay Maharaj said he did not attend the meeting as he was not invited, but he understood a follow up meeting would take place next week.

“All I know is that there were some concessions that were put on the table to be considered. Our lawyers have been asked to be present at that meeting to see if these particular changes or concessions would interfere in any way with the operations and the stability of the Concordat. Concessions look like they’re on the table without affecting the Concordat, which was my major concern, affecting the Concordat and how we operate and who we appoint as teachers in our schools.”

Maharaj said he would leave the matter to the lawyers and the Maha Saba representatives who had attended the meeting, including the spiritual leader of the organisation, as he did not want to compromise himself, having filed the pre-action protocol letter.