Tim: Minister of Education Anthony Garcia has slipped to new levels of incompetence and deceitfulness
Even by his pathetically low standards, Minister of Education Anthony Garcia has slipped to new levels of incompetence and deceitfulness at the start of the new academic year.
As expected, several schools across the country were not in a state of preparedness for classes, despite Mr. Garcia’s repeated and assured promises of a comprehensive vacation repair and maintenance programme.
As mandated by the Minister, all schools duly opened. But the state of disrepair was so critical at some institutions that they had to be immediately closed, once more impacting the learning of a number of students.
Several other schools have remained opened only because of a determination of principals and teachers not to disrupt students’ education.
Mr. Garcia’s poor record of repairs and maintenance contrasts badly with that of the People’s Partnership Administration, which undertook 5,500 such projects through a structured annual programme.
The schools repair issue was compounded by the non-payment of fees to maxi-taxi school transport concessionaires, thus leading to scores of students not being able to attend classes.
Mr. Garcia had faithfully committed to make payments “before the school term begins”, only to renege on his word yet again.
Several drivers have found themselves unable to afford to buy food for their families, and fuel, insurance and maintenance for their vehicles, meet their mortgage payments and even secure school supplies for their children.
There has also been non-payment to service providers of meals to students in the National Schools Dietary Services Ltd.
Schools Guidance Officers were forced to take action because of long-outstanding debts in allowances and dues.
Mr. Garcia is also dismantling the all-important Student Support Services Division, which provides a wide array of psycho-social intervention programmes to students in need.
Essential posts have been left vacant and professionals are often denied timely payment.
The People’s Partnership Government had appointed 700 professionals.
Still further, 75 schools which were under construction two years ago have been left to decay, with overgrown bushes and subjected to vandalism, while students are made to suffer.
The People’s Partnership Administration had constructed 104 schools, comprised of 67 Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) centres, 31 primary and six secondary institutions.
Mr. Garcia has also scrapped the programme which had employed 250 facilitators and moderators and which had made a significant impact on students’ performance.
The Parenting in Education and the teacher training and development programmes have been curtailed.
There are several vacancies in the teaching service, with only the part-replacement of teachers who have retired.
The delivery of the much-promised computer laptops to schools has not taken place.
The Schools Homework Centres remain closed and textbooks are still not being made available to needy students.
Mr. Garcia continues to reverse successful and vital policy measures that had each contributed to greater achievements at all levels of the education system.
For the good of Trinidad and Tobago’s leaders of tomorrow, I again implore Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to relieve the inept and bungling Mr. Garcia of his post and to place the critical education portfolio in the hands of a competent, committed, hardworking and visionary officer.
The country’s students should not be made to further endure the impact of the most wretched and hopeless Minister of Education in Trinidad and Tobago’s modern history.
DR. TIM GOPEESINGH,
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR CARONI EAST
& FORMER MINISTER OF EDUCATION