EDUCATION MINISTER Anthony Garcia said the reopening of schools for the new school year went smoothly with only eight schools being unable to open because of several issues, one being structural damage caused by the 6.9 earthquake on August 21.
“From the reports I received, things went quite smoothly, however, in my estimation there were far too many schools that were unable to open due to the earthquake. At first I was informed that there were five schools that would not be able to reopen, however today I was told there were eight more schools which remained closed as teachers deemed them unsafe,” he said.
However, general secretary of the TT Unified Teachers’ Association Fitzroy Daniel said 25 schools remained closed for various reasons including structural damage, electrical, water and sewer problems, relocation of students of St Phillip Government Primary, unfinished repairs and unchanged roofs.
Garcia said the ministry has engaged the services of an engineer from the University of the West Indies and would also be talking with the Environmental Management Authority to ensure that all schools were safe. “There was one school that had no water and that had nothing to do with the earthquake. We are hoping to have these matters rectified by the end of the week. The maxi taxis were out and the school feeding programme will resume on Wednesday. Also, the private secondary schools have agreed to $4,000 a term per child. In spite of a natural disaster, our schools were able to open on time,” he said.
On the ministry seeking legal advice of legal action against TTUTA for calling on teachers to stay away from school on Friday, Daniel said this was not the first time the ministry has threatened legal action against TTUTA taking action. “The information out in the public is misguided because people think we are in solidarity with OWTU, yes, but there are other issues.
This was discussed at our general council last term so this is not anything new.”