THA Minority Leader: Education Secretary should be fired

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

THA Minority Leader Kelvon Morris –

MINORITY Leader in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Kelvon Morris is calling on Chief Secretary Farley Augustine to fire Secretary of Education, Research and Technology Zorisha Hackett. Failing this, he says he will table a motion of no confidence against her.

Speaking last Thursday at the minority council press briefing, Morris blamed Hackett for the Scarborough RC Primary School remaining closed on Wednesday – the day schools in Tobago reopened for physical, in-person classes. The school remained closed because of structural issues.

He also called for the division’s assistant secretary, Orlando Kerr, to be made secretary to replace Hackett.

“I am prepared to take to the House a motion of no confidence against the secretary, and that motion would be submitted on our next opportunity, if no action is taken against the secretary.

“It is as serious as this, because we cannot and ought not to play games with the lives of students and children – innocent children,” Morris said.

Contacted for a response on Friday, Hackett said she doesn’t intend to respond to Morris adding that the majority of Tobagonians had answered on her behalf by their show of support to her, on social media.

Hackett told Newsday: “Right-thinking Tobagonians have already responded to Mr Morris’ claims on my behalf and therefore I have nothing further to add.”

Speaking on Thursday, Morris placed the blame squarely on Hackett.

“For my part, were I the chief secretary, I would call for her resignation today, because it is one thing for a secretary to have failed so miserably, to show such incompetence – but to not take responsibility is even worse.”

He added: “We were told in January that this administration, this secretary of education, met with all school principals in Tobago and at that meeting, each principal presented their concerns and there was a commitment by the secretary and her team that all these issues would be addressed.”

On the THA’s website on Friday, in an article under the headline “Students island-wide resume in-person classes,” the assembly said: “The Division of Education, Research and Technology worked to prepare the island’s schools for face-to-face classes, inclusive of conducting repairs and obtaining furniture.

“In addition, a new Education Health Unit was installed at the division, under house officer Dr Dane Joseph, to deal with school covid19 emergency response procedures.”

The article also dealt with ongoing repairs at Scarborough RC, saying Augustine and Hackett, along with a technical team from her division, visited the school to see the repairs first-hand.

During the press briefing, Morris played parts of an audio recording from the THA’s Mandate Monday radio programme, where assurances were given that all furniture issues would be addressed by April 14.

He claimed Hackett never followed up on this.

Noting that secretary Hackett is “always very much alive” on social media, he said he kept searching her pages and there was nothing on the Scarborough RC issue. He said the only person he has heard from since, was assistant secretary Kerr.

“It seems to me that Mr Kerr is more interested in our students and this secretary is busy playing fashion with our students’ lives. At the end of the day, if her business is to pose, perhaps the chief secretary should fire her, place Orlando Kerr as the secretary of education and allow the business of education to go on. Education is serious business,” Morris said.

What is really the priority of this secretary of education, Morris asked. “She must answer this question because if we allow her to get away with this, then she would continue to pose while our student’s education goes down the drain.

“The posing has to stop, and we all have to tell her that. Yes, we have no problem with you looking fashionable but it’s not a fashion show.”