EDUCATION MINISTER Anthony Garcia yesterday said there was a more than 50 per cent turnout of teachers at both primary and secondary level.
However, president of the TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) Lynsley Doodhai disagreed.
At a media conference, Garcia said the ministry was heartened by the turnout of teachers although they were called upon to stay away from school.
“From the figures we have received, in terms of percentage, overall when we look at the seven education districts in TT, we had an average of 50 per cent of attendance of teachers at the primary level, and at the secondary level 52.5 per cent. In both instances we have crossed the 50 per cent mark. To us that is indeed encouraging.
“There have been some fallout, I can’t dismiss that, but the fact is that the majority of our schools had acceptable attendance of teachers.
That tells us the majority of our teachers have decided they will accept their responsibility to the nation’s children.” Garcia said security measures and the school feeding system went extremely well.
“There were no problems at all where those were concerned, and in terms of school maxi taxi transport for students, that also went exceedingly well. Our children were transported and security measures were in place.
“This will tell us we are moving in the right direction, despite some of the challenges that face us. We are going to do everything to ensure that we work on those challenges. The ministry would ensure we provide a quality education for our children.”
While a clarion call was made by TTUTA for teachers to stay away from schools, Doodhai said from the association’s reports, 65 to 70 per cent of teachers did not turn out.
“Undoubtedly I think the call for a day to rest and reflect has been a success, more so because of all the threats that were made against teachers and by the Minister of Education and other government officials.”
In response to Garcia’s claim, he said, “What the minister is trying to say is that on any given day 20 to 25 per cent of teachers are absent from school, so he is trying to say is if you take that into consideration, not much teachers have supported TTUTA.”
Doodhai said he disagreed with the minister because normally in the first week of school approximately 95 per cent of teachers would attend on any given day.
Fitzgerald Hinds, acting Attorney General, when asked if disciplinary action will be taken against teachers who stayed away, said he was in an important meeting, and could not comment up to press time.
There were reports on social media of several schools closed yesterday. Among them were Newtown Girls’ RC, St Francois Girls’ High, Melville Memorial Girls’ Anglican Primary, Hillview College, Curepe Presbyterian, Belmont Secondary and Bishop Centenary. The Ministry of Education did not confirm this.