Education Minister Anthony Garcia yesterday assured that stipends will be paid to teachers at 13 private secondary schools before the end of this week.
He hinted the payments could begin as early as today. Garcia gave this assurance after one of those schools, Bishop’s Centenary Private School, decided to send its students home. Addressing a news conference at the Education Tower in Port-of-Spain, Garcia said he was informed of this development when he left yesterday’s Cabinet Finance and General Purposes sub-committee meeting.
Garcia explained, the ministry sends students to these schools based on their Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam results.
On this basis, the minister said, “The Government pays a stipend to the schools.”
He said Bishop’s decided to send home “all the students who are there at the behest of the government” when the “great majority of teachers” did not report for work yesterday.
He said Bishop’s and 12 other private secondary schools have been complaining to the ministry of not receiving their stipends since the school term began in September. Garcia said the genesis of this problem is because of the Government’s “serious problems with respect to cash flow.” He said normally the ministry would have had a surplus to pay these stipends. Garcia said this was not the case this year.
However he said Government appreciates the yeoman service these schools perform to help provide universal secondary education. He said Government is aware that when teachers work “they expect to be paid.”
To this end, he said he spoke with Finance Minister Colm Imbert and his ministry’s director of finance on the issue.