UNC: New school term ‘marred’ by Education Ministry’s mismanagement

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Anita Haynes-Alleyne

Opposition MP for Tabaquite Anita Haynes-Alleyne called on the Ministry of Education (MoE) to address “critical issues” that crossed over into the new year causing stakeholders to publicly display their frustrations.

In a statement on Sunday, referring to media reports of parents keeping children at home at St Therese and Poole RC Schools in Rio Claro, and protests at St Dominic’s RC, Penal, Haynes-Alleyne said the start of the new school term – which began January 2 – was “marred by instances of mismanagement and disregard by the MoE.”

Haynes-Alleyne said, “The recurrent issues of no consultation, no communication and no consideration on the part of the MoE is pushing stakeholders to their breaking point.”

She said the ministry could no longer rest on the excuse of resource unavailability as it received the largest allocation in this year’s budget with “hundreds of millions carded for infrastructure repair…

“There is no acceptable reason preventing the MoE from ensuring students are safely accommodated while urgent repairs are executed. Parents should not be forced to keep their children away from classes because of student overcrowding in poor conditions (St Therese and Poole RC schools), nor should they have to protest outside of school and shut down classes in a last-ditch effort to bring public attention to their plight as in the case of St Dominic’s RC Primary School.”

She said, over the years, a decline in school infrastructure maintenance and repair work was witnessed and that negligence was catching up, resulting in unsafe learning conditions for TT’s students.

Also speaking to reports of hundreds of teachers not receiving backpay as promised, Haynes-Alleyne said teachers “quite rightly” felt disrespected.

She said they were repeatedly on the receiving end of “scant regard and blame for policy deficits covered in lip service celebrations of their service.”

“As we seek to advance our education sector, we must create an environment that empowers and encourages our key stakeholders.”

She said if people truly believed in education as a vehicle for national development, they must demand better from the MoE and Government leadership overall.