Minister of Education Anthony Garcia is denying a claim by the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) that 70 schools would not have been ready for the start of the new school year today.
“The statement was not accurate,” he said.
“Unfortunately, TTUTA used information given to them in the wrong way. Officials from EFCL (Education Facilities Company Limited) have assured me everything was in place for the reopening of all government schools. All government primary and secondary schools are in a state of readiness when schools reopen tomorrow (today).”
Garcia was speaking with reporters yesterday after a walk through at the Arima Central Secondary School at Tumpuna Road, Arima.
“If TTUTA wants to instruct its teachers not to work, it is up to TTUTA. We will deal with that if it arrives, but we have a responsibility to the parents and, more so, to the children of this country to provide them with education. Since I have taken office as Minister of Education, together with my colleagues we have been working assiduously to ensure there is access for all our students so they will be able to benefit from the quality of education we are determined to offer.”
Garcia also assured more than 700 students assigned to the Arima Central Secondary School that construction work will resume within days.
He said the matter was discussed at Cabinet on several occasions and he is going to ensure that everything is put in place for work to resume in the shortest possible time.
“What we saw today really tells us it would not take much to complete the construction, and it is about 85 per cent completed.
“While I cannot say when the work will be completed, what I can say most definitely is that work is going to start as soon as possible and I am looking at in a matter of days.” Garcia confirmed work on the school had stopped for more than a year because the contractor was not paid. He said government is in a position where it has to be very careful with finances and there are a number of contractors who are owed money.
“We are doing everything possible to ensure that the contractors are paid. But in this case, the contractors stopped work and, as a result, we had to stop operations for the time being.” While Garcia said he was not in a position to say how much money was spent to finish the school, he said his officials from the ministry and officials from the EFCL will be doing an assessment.
“This is one of the reasons why we did a tour of the surroundings so that they would get first hand information. When they go back to office tomorrow (today) they will be able to come up with scope and also financial details.”