TTUTA: Garcia’s public pronouncement may be premature

Antonia DeFreitas. -
Antonia DeFreitas. -

Proposals on Tuesday by Education Minister Anthony Garcia, on restructuring the education system, because of the covid19 crisis, may have been a bit premature according to the TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA).

Association president Antonia De Freitas was reluctant to pronounce on statements by Garcia regarding the reopening of the school term in September, making this the third term, crunching of the first and second terms in the new academic year to begin in January and the proposed dates of examinations.

De Freitas confirmed that a virtual meeting has been scheduled with TTUTA and the Ministry for 10 am on Wednesday to discuss all of those issues. “This news conference has put information into the public domain before any meaningful discussion could be had with the association. “It means, therefore, TTUTA has to now consult with membership in terms of whether they would agree or disagree with the proposals the minister would have made for the restructuring of the term and the academic going forward,” De Freitas said.

She said these arrangements will have an impact on the terms and conditions of her members and so, a final decision will be made at the association’s general council meeting on Thursday.

TTUTA has already indicated concerns about access by both teachers and students to appropriate devices, levels of connectivity and training and sensitisation in terms of using the online platforms. “Because we would be looking to move immediately from a face to face system to a digital one and that is a major transition which requires quite a bit of preparation.”

President of the National Primary Schools Principals Association (NPSPA) Lance Mottley said while government’s proposals sound good in principle, everything is dependent on the outcome of the conversation with TTUTA on Wednesday and the Cabinet meeting on Thursday. Cabinet is to decide if school will be reopened in the third term.

Mottley also called for deeper conversation following these meetings, pointing out, “It’s not just about moving the third term in September, it’s about how do we readjust to the academic year to start back the following September in 2021.

“The minister spoke about the possibility of combining two terms, how is that going to be done? In which terms that is going to be done? And perhaps we need to talk about whether we are going to be contracting the curriculum.”

“We recognise and understand these are not normal times and there are lots of adjustments that have to be made and so we are willing to be part of the solution in terms of coming up with those adjustments.”

He said, “covid19 presents a very unstable and uncertain environment and of course there are discussion that have to be had with TTUTA and with outer stakeholders that would really solidify how we go forward.

What Minister Garcia presented to the national community seems a plausible solution, but we need to discuss the fine details,” Mottley said.


"TTUTA: Garcia’s public pronouncement may be premature"

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