FORMER Tertiary Education and Skills Training (TEST) Minister Fazal Karim, has expressed disappointment that the once independent Ministry was now relegated into a sub division of a new “super” Ministry of Education by the new People’s National Movement (PNM) Government.
Karim, who is now the Opposition Chaguanas East MP yesterday said he is however heartened that the new MTEST Administrative Complex at Narsaloo Ramaya Marg Road in Chaguanas, would be converted into the new headquarters for the Ministry of Agriculture which would be relocated from its present location at St Clair in Port-of-Spain.
“I am disappointed that the building will not be used for its intended construction purposes,” Karim said adding, “however the saving grace is that the current Government has agreed with my position of decentralisation of government services closer to the population.” “I therefore find it at least noteworthy that rather than have the building to stand as an eyesore, as a white elephant that they are utilising the taxpayers’ investment dollar for the purposes of the Ministry of Agriculture,” he added.
The new MTEST Administrative Complex was opened by then Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on August 28.
Regarding the Ministry which he once headed, Karim said this should have been allowed to continue to oversee all aspects of tertiary level and training programmes.
“It’s unfortunate that the present administration has collapsed two ministries into one and rather than have the Ministry of Education, which has looked after pre-school, primary and secondary and the Ministry of Tertiary Education which would have looked at all other aspects of education and training, that is technical and vocational, community college, university and post university education and training into one super ministry,” Karim stated.
Asked about the appointment of Moruga/ Tableland MP, Francis Lovell to oversee the activities of the former Ministry, Karim said while he was unfamiliar with Lovell’s background, the Ministry’s work could have easily continued despite the change of government.
“I do not know of his background, I do not know of his track record, but it is clear it is only one Ministry and we had separate Ministers and Ministries, and in my view, it would have been easy to continue the work that we had commenced over the past five years,” Karim said.