EDUCATION MINISTER Anthony Garcia says he did not threaten any teacher with legal action over tomorrow’s day of rest and reflection. Instead, Garcia insists he was simply stating a position.
Minister in the Ministry of Education, Dr Lovell Francis echoed that sentiment while appealing to teachers that students cannot afford to miss a day of school given the low pass rates at the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) and the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination in 2018.
Garcia spoke with reporters at the Ste Madeleine Secondary School where he handed over some 120 laptops to the school. A total of 13,000 laptops are being assigned to secondary schools across the country.
“We are not threatening any teacher at all – all that we have done is outline the position. One thing we want to stress on is that a sympathy strike is illegal we wanted to make sure teachers are aware of that,” Garcia said.
Francis sought to appeal to teachers, saying their students need them.
“We have not at the ministry, as ministers, threatened teachers. What we are doing is encouraging teachers to come out and fulfil their duty. “At this time in our education system, we face serious issues at primary and secondary level. Everyone is aware we had 2500 students last SEA who scored under 30 per cent, at secondary level this year we had 1,400 students who left after CSEC with not a single subject. This is very serious.”
Francis said as former educators, he and Garcia were simply offering teachers some encouragement.
“We are not in the business, as former teachers, as people who have been in the business our entire lives, of threatening teachers.”
While he did not elaborate on legal options as Garcia had done during a press conference on Tuesday, Francis did make mention of legal action.
“As to what happens in terms of a legal situation, will be sorted out after.”
And if teachers do heed the call of the TT Unified Teachers’ Association and stay away from schools tomorrow, chief education officer Harrilal Seecharan said one of three things can happen on the day itself.
“In schools where we have enough teachers, classes will continue as normal. In cases where we do not have all the teachers, provisions will be made for teaching where it can take place, and supervision for other students. There are also protocols for early dismissal if no teachers turn up. We will take it one school at a time.”