TTUTA walks out of Education Ministry meeting

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday


TTUTA president Antonia Tekah-De Freitas.

The TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) has said it walked out of a meeting with the Ministry of Education on Monday.

In a statement, TTUTA said the meeting was to discuss plans for term two reopening – January-April – and term three – April-July.

The statement said the ministry referred to a document which was sent to TTUTA late last week and outlines the ministry’s plans for the operations of secondary schools.

It said the document had few details on 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.

TTUTA’s statement said: “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.”

These included the full return of all forms four-six (upper school) and one-three (lower school) students; the rotation of classes and the implementation of a hybrid teaching system; the dismissal of emergency remote teaching arrangements; the continued use of personal devices and other resources by educators; proper sanitisation with the introduction of more people on school premises; and persisting infrastructural issues.

“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.’”

After telling the minister to engage the union through the chief personnel officer, the statement said Tekah-De Freitas and the national officers of TTUTA left the meeting.

It said another meeting with all stakeholders was set to take place on Tuesday afternoon.

But, it went on, “TTUTA is fed up with the condescension of the minister and the blatant disregard for the welfare of educators.

“TTUTA has made repeated suggestions for how matters could be addressed in the interest of all students, but these have been ignored.

“The union is well aware of the need to have students engage physically with their teachers. However, TTUTA will hold steadfast to its position that this return to in-person schooling must be done safely.”

The statement also said TTUTAmembers should not engage in any action that the union has objected to.

“Members must be willing to stand strong in the face of these bullying tactics.”