Ministry, stakeholders meet to discuss term 2, 3 of school year

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday


FILE PHOTO: Students make their way out of San Fernando Central Secondary School on the afternoon of January 3. –

The Ministry of Education has said it met with stakeholders on Tuesday to discuss the operations of schools for the remainder of the academic year, 2021/2022.

In a release, the ministry said it also met with the TT Unified Teachers Association on Monday in a separate meeting to discuss terms two and three. It said TTUTA was also a part of the meeting on Tuesday.

The release said stakeholders included the principals’ associations, the National Parent Teacher Association (NPTA) and the denominational school boards.

“All stakeholders were given the opportunity to make recommendations based on the draft document provided by the ministry and several issues and matters for consideration were raised.”

Issues raised by stakeholders included recognition of the criticality of students to return safely to the physical environment; the need for close supervision to ensure students do not breach safety protocols; parents’ concerns; standardisation of covid19 protocols and policies in all schools; provision of school funding; school infrastructure upgrades; and the effect of quarantine arrangements on school operations.

“TTUTA, at a meeting on January 10, maintained its position that students of forms five and six only be cleared for physical attendance, specifically for the completion of practical subject elements.

“Additionally, TTUTA requested an opportunity to discuss the draft recommendations provided by the ministry with Chief Personnel Officer (CPO).”

It said in determining a way forward for terms two and three, the government will take into consideration the national health circumstance, the regional and global education landscape, and the recommendations of stakeholders.

On Tuesday, TTUTA released a statement regarding its meeting with the ministry. It said the ministry referenced a document which was sent to TTUTA late last week and outlines the ministry’s plans for the operations of secondary schools.

It argued, the document had few details for the reopening of primary schools.

In December, Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly announced Early Childhood Centres of Education (ECCE) and primary school students standard one-four would return to the physical school environment from the third term.

“The president of TTUTA indicated to the minister that the document sent to TTUTA included a number of items which the union had previously indicated it was not in agreement with,” TTUTAs statement said.

“The president (Antonia Tekah-De Freitas) also indicated that the creation of the draft document appeared to be based on discussions with a particular group of stakeholders, not the recognised majority union.

“TTUTA saw this situation as disrespectful and divisive, and another instance of the minister’s position of ‘TTUTA will be told what it needs to be told.’”

CEO of the Catholic Education Board of Management Sharon Mangroo told Newsday on Wednesday the discussion with the ministry and stakeholders on Tuesday went very well.

“The minister was able to get different perspectives from (all stakeholders). Quite a few issues were clarified.”

Mangroo said the ministry indicated that a draft of the guidelines for schools in terms two and three was drafted and would be made available soon.

She said stakeholders were told the draft had to be vetted by the Ministry of Health and the Prime Minister before a final decision was made.

Mangroo said stakeholders asked whether schools were being considered as safe zones. They were told by the ministry that it had no information on the issue as yet but stakeholders would be notified if there are changes.

On December 18, Dr Rowley announced that government’s new public-sector safe-zone policy would require publice servants to be vaccinated against covid19 by mid-January or be furloughed.

Students in forms four-six, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, have been attending physical classes since September, 2020.