Six years ago, when I was Prime Minister, top global leaders such as Hillary Clinton and former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon were showering high praises on T&T for our then pioneering education initiatives.
We were hailed as one of the first countries in the world to have achieved the UN’s 2015 Millennium Developmental Goal of Universal Early Childhood Education.
Numerous studies show that early childhood education is crucial to helping poor, vulnerable children out of a life of crime and poverty.
Before 2010, thousands of children were unable to attend pre-school because of insufficient places or unaffordable school fees. My Government quickly fixed this serious problem. We partnered with over 200 private ECCE schools to ensure that ALL 36,000 children between 3 and 4 years were guaranteed a secure, FREE pre-school place.
We also built 65 new ECCE centres throughout T&T, creating hundreds of teaching jobs in the process.
When we left office in 2015, another 32 centres were under construction. Each cost between $3m-7m.
The Rowley Government then vindictively stopped this groundbreaking program and left the unfinished ECCE centres to rot and be vandalized.
They also shut down many new ones, even though children were already attending them. It would have cost the Rowley Government about $100 million to complete these ECCE centres.
That’s the same amount of money that was allegedly stolen in the Petrotrin fake oil scandal involving A&V, a company owned by PM Rowley’s close friend, Nizam Baksh.
Now, the economy is in serious decline and over 100,000 citizens have lost their jobs Pre-Covid.
Thousands of parents simply cannot afford pre-school fees come September. What, then, will become of their children? Truly, the failed, corrupt and destructive Rowley Government will completely destroy T&T if they ever get another term in office.
A UNC Government will urgently reopen these ECCE centres. NO child will be left behind and forced into a life of crime because they are poor.
T&T’s resources must benefit of ALL citizens, not just a few elite friends and family of the Rowley Cabinet. Together we can rebuild our beloved nation into a place of progress and equality for all.