Member of Parliament for Cumuto/Manzanilla Dr.Rai Ragbir is today disputing statements by Education Minister Dr. Nyan Gadsby-Dolly that 90 per cent of the nation’s students are accessing education online.
Dr. Ragbir is questioning the methodology used in arriving at such a conclusion, and is calling on the Honorable Minister to publicly reveal the empirical data which informed such a conclusion.
He lamented, “The Honorable Minister is clearly out of touch with the reality and actuality of the situation, particularly in the constituency of Cumuto/Manzanilla, where many students do not even have access to internet connectivity, and as such not in possession of any devices that would facilitate on-line learning.”
Dr. Ragbir said making such a claim only serves to belittle the most vulnerable and disadvantaged students, especially those who live in far-flung remote and rural communities, some of which exist in Cumuto/Manzanilla.
He said, “I remain baffled by the Minister’s claim, since I have voluntarily offered to assist many students from the constituency with the copying of school assignments and other learning material, after leasing a heavy-duty copier together with toner and paper, all through the generosity and financial assistance from my salary without any input from the Ministry of Education”. He said this service is being made available to 20 Primary and 3 Secondary schools in the Constituency.
Dr. Ragbir said he felt it was incumbent on him to act in the best interest of all students, especially those in rural communities, as his Party’s vision in education espouses “That no child should be left behind”.
MP Ragbir insisted, “It is for this reason that statically, the students of Cumuto/Manzanilla can in no way fall within the 90 percent, in any significant way, as is being claimed by the Education Minister”. Dr. Ragbir said he remains uncertain as to the further claim by the minister that all teachers who have indicated a need have been provided with laptops.
The Cumuto/Manzanilla MP is insisting that the 100 million dollars allocated in this fiscal year to provide devices and connectivity for students and teachers is equitably distributed, including those of Cumuto/Manzanilla. Dr. Ragbir said, “My care and concern rests with those students who reside in rural and remote areas, as well as those that come from the most vulnerable and disadvantaged households in the Constituency of Cumuto/Manzanilla”.
He is calling on the Minister of Education to engage in dialogue and discussion, to work together in finding common ground for all of the nation’s students. He said, “A good, solid foundation in education today, will become the springboard towards job opportunities in the future”.
The Cumuto/Manzanilla MP reminded the Education Minister that it was the vision and astute leadership of the Kamla Persad-Bissessar Administration, which introduced the Laptop Programme, creating a learning environment for all students, in an era of technology and advanced training.
The nation must be reminded that this initiative was thoughtlessly dismantled by the Rowley Administration, a grave an unwarranted injustice to all the students of Trinidad and Tobago.