Former education minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh holds a copy of Sunday’s Newsday during the Opposition’s weekly news conference. – SUREASH CHOLAI
Former UNC MP and former education minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh is calling on fathers to be present in the lives of their children.
He spoke at the weekly Opposition news briefing on Sunday at the Office of the Opposition Leader in Port of Spain.
Gopeesingh also accused the Government of failing to keep many of the policies and initiatives to tackle school violence and indiscipline implemented by the former People’s Partnership government. He spoke to a number of issues affecting TT’s education sector.
Father’s Day will be celebrated around the world on June 19.
Responding to Newsday about the role of parenting in school violence, Gopeesingh said, “I want to appeal to the fathers of this nation, go with your children, help to educate your children.
“Be a part of your children’s education. Do not only leave it on the mothers.”
Gopeesingh was education minister under from 2010-2015.
He said fathers would see the benefits of their child’s development once they become active in their lives.
“Take them to school, listen to them when you are taking them to school, and be a part of their lives.”
Gopeesingh said school violence in TT did not have to be this way and falls squarely on the shoulders of the Prime Minister and all his ministers of education. He said many policies were implemented under the PP government.
He said while school violence was nothing new, it worsened under the current government.
“We had a task force report in 1985 and when the People’s Partnership government came into office we had two national consultations, each over a three-day period, and eight district consultations to address education issues.
“More than 5000 educators participated in these consultations and made significant recommendations, many of which the Partnership Government implemented and some of these in relation to school violence and indiscipline.”
Gopeesingh highlighted 24 policies implemented by the then administration including increasing student support services; establishing psychological education enhancement centres; hosting several parenting workshops; establishing the national student hotline; hiring over 170 school safety officers; having police patrols; increased CCTV cameras at all schools and partnering with the Citizens Security Programme.
He also addressed the reduction in funding for the University of the West Indies (UWI).
Finance minister Colm Imbert announced earlier this month a ten per cent cut in funding to the St Augustine campus and asked that it finds other ways to address the financial shortfall.
Gopeesingh said, “They have now cut the GATE (Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses) programme considerably, resulting in less students participating in tertiary education in undergraduate and, worse, now post-graduate education for masters and PhDs.
“This is resulting, in terms of national development and skills, in being the worst that it has ever been whereas (Kamla) Persad-Bissessar’s People’s Partnership government spent close to six per cent of the Gross Domestic Product – approximately 16 per cent of annual budgetary allocation – on education.”
He said the PNM administration halved that which resulted in serious compromise and the worst educational achievements in TT’s history.