The future of children attending government-funded schools is at risk because too many times schools are not ready or teachers walk out in protest for poor working conditions, according to president of the National Parent Teacher Association, Zena Ramatali.
Ramitali said she was concerned about students from the Princes Town East Secondary because since last term students had to leave school at around 11 am.
“I had a lot of complaints from several schools which were dismissed at around 11 am today (yesterday). The children have been going home early since last term and 11 out of 64 children past five or more CSEC subjects, 11 out of 64. I am really heartbroken for those children. That is all I am saying.” She continued, “Whatever has to be done, I am pleading for those children because when 11 out of 64 children got five or more passing where would these children be five or ten years from now? We are focusing on ensuring that our children have access to education so that is my concern.” She said during the early morning yesterday her cellphone was flooded with calls of concern on the reopening of schools and unfinished repairs needed at several schools.
“I am hoping that whatever has to be done despite the downturn in the economy that we will be able to look at the long-term effect that it is going to have on the children with that situation. I know it is a time where money is short but when you have children having to go home every day that is going to have an impact on their development, on their academic performance, and how they will contribute to society later on, they will have no skills and education to sustain themselves.”
Ramatali said it is her hope and wish that the relevant authorities take time to look at what has to be done and put things in place for the sake of the nation’s children especially those in government schools because they were the ones suffering the most.
However, at a press conference yesterday Education Minister Anthony Garcia said all 142 government schools opened their doors to receive students.
“I am pleased to say we have been successful in ensuring that over the last five terms where schools were opened we have had 100 per cent success. In other words we were able to have all schools open their doors for entry by our students at the beginning of each term.” He continued, “At the beginning of this term this academic year 2017/2018 I am pleased to say and to state categorically that every school in Trinidad and Tobago was in a state of readiness to receive our children. I consider this a major achievement.”
Garcia said he has heard about all the claims being made by the president of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) Lindsay Doodhai where information provided by him was contrary to what Garcia stated yesterday. Garcia said the Ministry of Education is not in competition with TTUTA.
“We recognise TTUTA as a stakeholder within the education system. We have always done everything so that we can work hand in hand with all of our stakeholders because we cannot do it alone. Therefore, we respect the role TTUTA has been playing in an effort to improve our education system.” Meanwhile, Doodhai said repairs to 62 out of 142 schools earmarked for repairs under the Vacation Repair Programme are still to be completed. He said although schools reopened, teachers and students had to function in less than ideal conditions yesterday.