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Letter: Hollow assurance
Published on August 22, 2017Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

The assurance of education minister Anthony Garcia that all schools are ready for the start of the academic year is hollow in light of his track record on this important matter.

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Mr Garcia’s previous guarantees turned out to be worthless and insincere after a number of schools faced major construction and maintenance issues during the ensuing school term.

With almost two weeks to the beginning of the academic term, I urge Mr Garcia to ensure that the construction and maintenance programme is completed in order to achieve a seamless and efficient start of the school year.

Mr Garcia’s performance on this matter has been extremely deficient, with more than 25 schools being closed at various times of the previous school year because of pressing maintenance issues.

In some instances, schools were shut for long periods, resulting in adverse effects on the education of affected students.

Having a proper teaching and learning environment for all students is expected to be a challenge for Mr Garcia because of his tardiness in paying construction contractors. Almost $1.2 billion is owed to contractors who were employed by the Education Facilities Company Ltd (EFCL).

The schools maintenance issue compounds the government’s scrapping of the construction programme. The People’s Partnership had constructed 104 schools, comprised of 67 early childhood care and education (ECCE) centres, 21 primary and eight secondary schools.

When the PNM regime entered national office, 27 ECCE centres, 23 primary and six secondary schools were under construction. Several structures have been left to rot and decay. The PNM regime has not constructed a single new education facility.

On behalf of the nation’s students, I urge the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association to hold the minister of education accountable on this vital matter.

I also call on Mr Garcia to re-launch the computer laptop grant, schools’ textbook programme and after-school homework centres, all of which have been arbitrarily scrapped under his watch.

In addition, he must ensure there is no cutback in the school feeding programme, which provides essential nutrition to thousands of students.

The ongoing issues are all manifestations of a minister of education who is grossly incompetent and lacks a vision for the development of the education sector to produce a modern knowledge-driven society.

Dr Tim Gopeesingh
Member of Parliament for Caroni East
Former Minister of Education
 
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