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Sunday 16 June 2019
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TTUTA: Don't use children in protests

PRESIDENT of the TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) Lynsley Doodhai has endorsed the Presbyterian Primary School Board of Education’s position against parents engaging their children in protests.

“That has always been a position of TTUTA with respect to any form of protest in any part of the country. People protest the condition of roads, for water, and many times children are involved in these protests on days when they should be in school.

“If adults feel they have a legitimate concern and they want to engage in protests, that is their legitimate right, but do not engage the children in such protests.”

The board, in a statement issued by chairman the Rev Anthony Rampersad and general secretary Rosalind Gunness last week, said while it supports the efforts of parents to have the Princes Town Presbyterian Primary No 1 school rebuilt, they cannot condone the use of children on the picket line. The board said this would not help fast-track the process.

With a shift system in place, the board advanced that teaching time should be maximised in the present circumstances.

However, president of the school’s parent-teachers association, Nola Karim, lashed out at the board and the Ministry of Education, blaming them for the loss of valuable school time.

“We are not using our children as leverage to get the school built. The fact is these children who are out with their parents on the protest line do not have school on mornings, when we usually stage our protest. They attend the evening shift, so they are not losing valuable school time.”

She said some of the parents who are protesting have no choice but to take their children to the protest, because they have nowhere else to leave them.

“We are fighting for better conditions for our children and all the board and the ministry want to do is to keep us quiet. We are not prepared to go through that again.”

She said she has no intention of heeding the warning of the board and today, parents and their children will be out in full force to continue their protest.

Doodhai agreed the children are being severely disadvantaged. “These children are being prepared for a standardised test, which is the Secondary Entrance Assessment examination, in a shorter time span. They are not benefiting from the normal hours of tuition. It’s not fair to them.”

Doodhai said he understands the concerns of the parents because while the ministry promised to rebuild the school, it is not among the ten schools listed for construction.

“We are almost at the end of the financial year, and TTUTA is pleading with the Ministry of Education to schedule this school for rebuilding in the next fiscal year.”

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