UNC MP: Education system a failure

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

UNC MP Anita Haynes – Parliament

“In nine years, with an average of $200 million spent annually on education, why is there so little to show for it?”

Opposition MP for Tabaquite Anita Haynes-Alleyne asked this when she brought a motion to the House of Representatives on March 1 on what she considered the government’s mismanagement of the education system, calling the Ministry of Education a failure.

She quoted the Education Act, Chapter 39-01, saying the government is responsible for managing the education system.

Haynes-Alleyne said the government has overseen the deterioration of the education structure and failed to maintain or implement data-driven measures that ensure the delivery of special education that is equitable and accessible to Trinidad and Tobago.

She said the government has also failed to optimise curriculum development that reflects labour needs and limited access to technical vocation training and qualifications.

“This House condemns the government for its failure and mismanagement of the education system. This House calls on the government to immediately implement data-driven measures to guarantee the successful future development of Trinidad and Tobago.”

She said the education sector is dealing with the future of Trinidad and Tobago’s children and young people and holds the building blocks for the next generation.

“What does my motion ask us to contemplate? It is not about the inner workings of the Ministry of Education; it is not about personalities in the ministry; it is about the education system.

“The motion asks us, as a Parliament, to sit and contemplate whether or not the education system is working.”

Haynes-Alleyne said staff may show up on time and check all boxes, but the system needs restructuring to promote the culture, vision, goals and values of Trinidad and Tobago.

“A well-functioning education system not only equips students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the workforce, but also fosters critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving that are essential for innovation and progress.”

Haynes-Alleyne called the education system the cornerstone of development across every society and the most important sector under the House’s purview.

“What does this system mean for tomorrow’s teachers, civil servants, police officers, business owners and politicians? What type of society are we creating?”

She stressed that education promotes societal cohesion and is a building block for society. She urged that her motion be approached with seriousness and respect for the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

“Despite us sitting on opposite sides of Parliament, we must accept certain things as facts. The highest budget allocation is given to the education sector, but are we seeing value for money?” Haynes-Alleyne said challenges faced in education are not an issue of resources but of management, which falls squarely on policymakers. She said the Education Ministry spends money on treating symptoms but not the cause, calling the government approach reactionary.

“Every time the opposition raise an issue, we get a quick reaction but no sustainable solutions. We must look at whether or not there is a will within the system to develop and implement data-driven policies.”

The Tabaquite MP called for transparency in accounting for how money is spent, saying, “Quite frankly, nothing is being done.”

She said the government must accept that it has failed.