Minister of Education Mr. Anthony Garcia has once more proven that he is not a man to his word when it comes to the future of the country’s students.
Several schools across the nation are in a serious state of disrepair to the point that they are not fit for occupation by relevant students and teachers, leading to major disruptions in learning.
That is despite Mr. Garcia’s repeated and pronounced assurances before the start of the school term, on September 5, that all schools are fit for use.
The Minister had been repeatedly advised during the two-month mid-year vacation that the late start to school repairs by the Education Facilities Company Ltd., would almost assuredly negatively impact students’ education.
Mr. Garcia was typically cavalier on the matter, and began important and urgent repairs and improvements ONLY toward the end of the vacation.
Of relevance is that more than half of the country’s primary schools are more than 50 years old and are in urgent need of continued restoration and renovation.
The tardiness in undertaking school improvement works compounds the fact that the PNM regime has not constructed any new Early Childhood Care and Education centres and has not completed any new Secondary Schools.
The People’s Partnership had constructed 102 new schools, ECCE, Primary and Secondary and nearly seventy more were under construction, all of which, presently this PNM Government have stopped, dashing the hopes of thousands of students and teachers of having their new schools completed.
Over 5,500 repair and maintenance projects had been completed in hundreds of schools across the country by the People’s Partnership Government to ensure a safe and secure learning environment for Education during their five years.
In addition to not carrying out required school repairs and continued school construction, Mr. Garcia has found himself in senseless verbal tangles with various denominational school administrators and is engaging in PNM-style finger-pointing.
The crisis at the nation’s schools compounds other education issues under Mr. Garcia’s watch.
They include the refusal to grant computer laptops to secondary school students, abandonment of the Continuous Assessment Component, shutdown of After-School homework centres, non-provision of any new textbooks, reduction in school feeding meals, removal from the SEA curriculum significant aspects of Physical Education, Visual and Performing Arts, which were contributing to the realization of development of the fullest potential of the child.
Mr. Garcia’s obvious incompetence and professional recklessness are continuing to affect the education of the country’s students. There is now precipitous, serious and unacceptable reversal of significant gains made by the People’s Partnership Government in the Education System during its five years.
He is ill-fitted to lead the education sector in an era of globalisation, innovation and in the march toward a knowledge-based economy.
In the interest of the country’s students, I again call on Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley to relieve Mr. Garcia of his post as Minister of Education.
Dr. Tim Gopeesingh,
Member of Parliament for Caroni East,
Former Minister of Education.