Denominational schools will be engaged on decisions regarding the Secondary Entrance Examinations (SEA) and the Concordat, the Ministry of Education said on Friday.
In a release, the ministry said denominational boards had expressed concern they were not being represented on a committee formed to make recommendations on the way forward for students transitioning from primary to secondary schools.
The Concordat of 1960 is a memorandum that aims to preserve the character of denominational schools in the TT. It addresses the roles of denominational schools such as the right to select students and religious teachings in schools.
The release said as key stakeholders, the denominational boards of education will form part of an important sub-group that the substantive committee will engage.
“Representation is present on the committee from religious bodies and denominational schools,” said the ministry.
“Further clarification and defining of the feedback from boards, received during the National Consultation of 2020, will be a critical part of the committee’s work, which involves examination of the very agreement by which the boards’ schools are governed.”
The ministry assured the denominational boards that the review process will not happen without the direct engagement of all stakeholders.
Secretary of the Anglican Education Board Cheryl Jackson on Friday said the boards have been notified by president of the Association of Denominational School Boards Sharon Mangroo of an emergency meeting to be held on Monday to discuss the ministry’s response.
There are 340 denominational primary schools and 44 denominational secondary schools in the public school system in TT.
Jackson said there are some of the opinion that the Concordat should be changed because denominational schools are privileged to chose 20 per cent of its student intake.
“We have our faith to keep so we look out for our people,” said Jackson. We have to maintain our faith seeing as we are denominational, so we have a mixture (of students) with the 80 per cent of students sent by the government.”
She said the ministry invited everyone else to be a part of the committee, with religions being represented by the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) of TT, but the denominational school boards were left out.
She said the IRO does not really represent the education boards.
Secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha Vijay Maharaj said denominational school boards are the main stakeholders in education and make up the majority of schools in the country. “We should be at the forefront of the discussion,” he said.
Maharaj said the school boards are going to champion the cause of getting their voices heard as they feel insulted and disrespected by the ministry.