Former energy minister, La Brea MP Nicole Olivierre yesterday declared the Opposition United National Congress (UNC) was responsible for the bullying incident at the Siparia West Secondary school. Four students were suspended for a week after videos posted on social media showed them bullying, fighting and extorting money from school mates.
In her contribution to the budget debate in Parliament, Olivierre reminded MPs that Siparia MP Kamla Persad-Bissessar was responsible for the removal of corporal punishment as a method of discipline in the secondary school system. Government MPs thumped their desks when Olivierre said this happened when Persad-Bissessar was education minister in the former Basdeo Panday administration.
“The young men were victims of UNC education,” she said. Olivierre said when corporal punishment was removed under the UNC, nothing was done to ensure discipline was maintained in schools.
“She argued that Persad-Bissessar made the situation worse when she became prime minister in 2010.
Olivierre said this happened when the People’s Partnership (PP) removed a system left in place by former education minister Hazel Manning to keep back primary school students who were not yet ready to enter the secondary school system. She explained this was done to properly prepare them for the challenges of secondary school.
Olivierre claimed the PP scrapped the system so it could boast they, ‘left no child behind’, in terms of secondary school places.
Olivierre said this move backfired and has caused unprepared primary school students entering secondary schools. “This is the harvest we are reaping today,” she declared.
Saying there is a high level of student under performance in primary schools in her constituency, Olivierre was happy that the Education Ministry is focusing on ensuring students can read and write first. She said this was better than the laptop initiative of the PP.
Touching on the increase the price of diesel fuel to $3.41 per litre, Olivierre said the price of diesel in Norway is approximately $12.35 per litre. Noting many energy producing nations across the world have been reducing or removing their fuel subsidies, Olivierre said the fuel price changes in the budget are not as excessive as some people are making them out to be.