A National Disgrace and Shame is how MP Davendranath Tancoo described the Government’s treatment of “tens of thousands” of children in rural communities and financially challenged families. The Member of Parliament for Oropouche West was speaking at a distribution ceremony of laptops procured by the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation today.
MP Tancoo poured shame on the Minister of Education who he said should be ashamed for the hopelessly poor job she has done as Minister of Education. Stating that he had little confidence on the veracity of the Ministers claim that 65,000 children were in need of laptops and internet access, Tancoo opined that of the 260,000 children in our nation’s schools, he is of the view that tens of thousands more were affected. Access to a parent’s cell phone cannot constitute adequate access to internet and a device for a child’s education he claimed, especially as many of these parents have to hustle an income outside the home during the day.
A clearly angry MP Tancoo said “It is a shame that after 9 months they are still confessing that 30,000 children still have no device or internet access. Worse, it is a fact that the worse affected communities are those rural areas where poverty is rampant and who need the assistance most. Imagine Minister of Finance allocated 50 million dollars to purchase laptops in the annual budget and after 4 months the Minister of Education is telling this population that the government procurement process had BEGUN through IGOVTT. After 9 months of tens of thousands of children being abandoned without access to IT and effectively deprived of whatever schooling was available via the internet, the government boasts of having STARTED the procurement process! What have they been doing for the last nine months? They know what the problem is, they know what the solution is, they have the money to fix the problem but they CHOOSE to sit on their hands and throw away the future of our children. That is a shame!”
Tancoo supported the call by PDRC Chairman Dr Sammy to return the laptop programme to our education system and also called for the Government to stop the geographic discrimination against rural communities including the area served by the Penal Debe Regional Corporation.
“These are poor families in difficult circumstances, whose children are being penalised while the government Ministers and their friends and families feed at the trough.” Reminding the audience that starting with the founding father of the Nation Dr Eric Williams, every administration since has placed emphasis on developing our children at the fore front, culminating with the implemented vision of then PM Kamla Persad Bissessar’s laptop and IT development in schools. Reminding the audience that he was an economist in addition to being a lawyer, Tancoo said that since 2015, the country has regressed and that the destruction of the development path of our children will have significant impact on the economy, earning potential and future of our country.
Calling on parents to never forget how this government has treated them, he urged the children to dream big, study hard and focus on developing themselves despite the challenges. “Who knows?” he said, “It has been done before. You may have another councillor, doctor, teacher, lawyer or even Prime Minister from amongst you”
MP Davendranath Tancoo,
15th January, 2021