More and more crises are unfolding in the education sector while Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley continues to hold onto his woefully inept and bungling Minister of Education Anthony Garcia.
At several schools, the School Nutrition Programme has ceased serving fruits and drinks to students, while the hopeless Mr. Garcia appears blissfully unaware of this regressive development.
Mr. Garcia has been quoted in the media as stating that drinks are still being provided, but the fact is that the service has been terminated at several schools. At some schools, the provision of fruits has also been halted.
This further indicates how out of control Mr. Garcia is with respect to his critical portfolio. During the Budget debate, the Government had assured that there will be no cutback in the services provided to students by the National Schools Dietary Services Ltd.
The school feeding issue follows on the fiasco of several schools across the country being forcibly closed and hundreds of students affected because of critical repair issues. For cheap propaganda reasons, Mr. Garcia had claimed at the start of the school term that all schools were in a state of readiness for classes. I had advised during the mid-year school vacation that there was tardiness and absence of planning and execution in the repair programme. Hard-working and ambitious students are now facing the backlash of the Mr. Garcia’s gross incompetence and pathetic performance.
The long-running disruption of classes at Montrose Vedic School is particularly vexing and unconscionable. Mr. Garcia’s lame excuses demonstrate his ineffectiveness and raw lack of skills for the vital portfolio. The education of 525 students has been affected because of the absence of leadership.
Mr. Garcia’s report card also includes abandonment of the schools and early childhood care construction programme, shutdown of the After-School Homework Centres and scrapping of the textbook distribution service.
In addition, the personal computer laptop distribution service has been discontinued even in the face of an abundance of evidence of its unquestioned value to students. Reputable international research has confirmed that integrating laptops and other technology devices have provided immeasurable assistance to students. Technology is now second nature to students and it is utilised it for research and supplemental information. A Joint Select Committee of Parliament had previously strongly urged the retention of this facility.
Mr. Garcia lacks the requisite skill and aptitude, vision, purpose, work ethic and leadership ability to head the critical Education Ministry in this modern era of innovation-led, knowledge-based economies and of globalisation.
The Prime Minister must urgently save the education sector from further calamitous collapse by dismissing the clueless and awful Minister of Education.
If the Prime Minister fails to act, he will be guilty of a dereliction of his duties on behalf of the nation’s students and future leaders. He will be directly responsible for the crisis in the education sector.
Dr. Tim Gopeesingh, Member of Parliament for Caroni East,
Former Minister of Education.