THE 40-year old TT Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) is poised to make history as its 11,500 eligible members are casting their votes to elect its first female president.
Three women are contesting the presidential position. They are Upper Carapichaima Presbyterian Primary School principal Nirmala Chinebas-Dindial; Eastern Boys’ Government School principal Jemima Riley; and senior teacher at (St Charles) Tunapuna Girls’ RC School Antonia De Freitas.
By 9 pm tonight, one of them will replace outgoing president Lynsley Doodhai, who is no longer eligible to contest the position, having served the maximun two terms as vice president and president between 2013 and 2019.
Doodhai voted at the TTUTA office at Donaldson Street, San Fernando, around noon on Tuesday.
“The teaching service comprises 75 to 80 per cent of women, so it is only natural that someday a woman would have risen through the ranks to become the first female president of TTUTA,” he said.
“So we are poised to make history sometime tonight when the preliminary results are declared.
"I think it augurs well for TTUTA that a woman is coming through the ranks because even at the international level, Educational International (EI), which is the international organisation to which all teachers’ unions belong, the president is a female, Susan Hopgood. So even internationally, women have risen to the highest level in their teaching organisations. And it is good that TT has followed suit.”
Polls opened at 7 am and will close at 5 pm when ballots will be counted int the respective educational districts.
“By 9 pm we expect to have some sort of preliminary idea in terms of who is leading and who is the eventual winner. The elections commission of TTUTA, which is the body responsible for the entire process today, will declare the results sometime later, in writing.
Doodhai said ballot boxes would have gone to the schools in both Trinidad and Tobago for teachers to vote for the 14 candidates contesting six positions – president, first, second and third vice president, treasurer and general secretary.
In the 2016 election, just over 7,000 teachers voted, and Doodhai is hoping for a similar if not larger turnout because of the interest generated by the three female candidates and the issues facing teachers, major among them, stalled wage negotiations.
He said a base was established in each educational district, along with a returning officer, to cater to any teacher who for whatever reason did not attend school.
The president and new executive will be sworn in on October 31, the sixth working day after the election, as Monday will be the Divali holiday.
Doodhai and those not seeking re-election will return to their substantive teaching positions in December, as there is a provision for a one-month transition period.
Doodhai will oncemore become principal primary, Torrib Trace Presbyterian Primary sSchool.