TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) Tobago officer Bradon Roberts is concerned about the readiness of schools on the island amid the covid19 pandemic and the Ministry of Education's protocols.
But he says he is determined to work with the THA Education Division to rectify the shortcomings.
On Monday, the first day of face-to-face learning for secondary students of forms four to six preparing for exams began returning to school.
THA Secretary of Education, Innovation and Energy Marslyn Melville-Jack, after a visit to five of the nine secondary schools on the island, said she was comfortable with the health and safety protocols in place.
But speaking with Newsday on Tuesday, Roberts said he visited schools as well, but had very differing views.
“It was worse than I expected it to be. For the secretary to come out and say that everything is well is very misleading, and it gives me now very little confidence that they’re going to fix the issues. If they could just brush it off and say everything is good, they would never reach to the stage where we’re properly fixing the issues,” he said.
Saying some schools have major issues, he singled out Mason Hall Secondary.
“I was amazed to see the amount of water coming out of the ground. There appears to be something like a burst line or something, with a lot of water running. You’re actually hearing a lot of water running on the compound. The water undermining there could cause greater problems later down the road,” he said.
On the covid19 protocols, he said, “One of the schools I went to didn’t even have sanitiser on the compound.
“I had a little interaction with couple of the principals, who indicated that they’re trying their best to put certain things in place.”
On the science labs at secondary schools, Melville-Jack admitted to problems at Signal Hill and Mason Hal, but said they would be “handled as soon as possible.”
Roberts is not convinced.
“It has been years since these labs have not been functioning properly. Teachers have been trying to find alternative ways of getting the work done and in getting the work done, and in teaching, we always say that they are two different things.
“So,it was quite upsetting to hear that the secretary – and I even heard the ministry follow suit in Trinidad – say that everything went well.
"But really and truly, on the ground, principals and teachers are really trying their very best to get things to work. TTUTA is committed to working with the division.
The problem, he said, was "the tendency to just paint a picture that everything is good.
"I do not want on the opposite to paint a picture of just doom and gloom, but we need to be real as we report to the people, so that we can fix the necessary issues accordingly.”