Orlando Kerr, Tobago Officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA), said protest action by teachers would not affect next week’s Secondary Entrance Assessment examinations in Tobago.
Tobago teachers engaged in protest action on Monday morning in front of the Division of Education at Dutch Fort, Scarborough, to get Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, who is also Secretary for Education, to work with TTUTA to resolve some 24 matters which they say have been plaguing them for some three years now. The teachers promised to continue their protests until they get some redress.
At a press conference later Monday Chief Secretary Charles, who said 15 of 24 issues affecting the teachers has been resolved in the last two weeks, also called on parents to speak out if protest action taken by Tobago TTUTA and teachers causes any inconvenience to students.
“There are students in Trinidad who have to do the same SEA examination but I am unaware of any picket demonstration contemplated in Trinidad before the 3rd May,” Charles said. Having contended that various of the teachers’ complaints were human resources related, Charles also said, when you look at the number of teachers in Tobago as opposed to the numbers in Trinidad, HR problems in Trinidad are multiplied seven times.”
Relating to the promise that teacher’s protest will not affect SEA, Kerr told reporters on Monday: “Our action next week will not be similar to today, it will not be a mass picket so that most of the teachers will be at school.
“We are going to monitor the issues and show the Division we are not taking things lightly, and keep our actions up until every University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) teacher has been promoted, until all schools have adequate materials, until every school is secure, so our issues must be treated with.”
“Something must be done, we are very concerned about education in Tobago and we are going to continue to do whatever we have to do to ensure that the powers that be recognise that teachers are very important stakeholders in education and we must be given a voice and listened to, but most importantly our issues must be treated with.”
He claimed that the protest action by the teachers would benefit students “because when the teachers get involved in the plan for improvement of conditions, resources and materials we are not getting in schools, then the benefits are going to trickle down to the students.
Kerr also said he believed protest action by the teachers will give Tobago’s education sector the “revolution in education” promised by Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles in 2017. Charles is also Secretary for Education.
“The Division removed the remedial programme that assisted many struggling students in secondary school, without implementing other programmes to continue this assistance.
“When we look at primary schools, we don’t have materials and supplies. Some of the schools are unsafe because there is no proper fencing where intruders enter, or dilapidated construction causing harm to teachers and students, causing our students to suffer.”