SECRETARY General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) Vijay Maharaj says both the TT Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) and the National Primary Schools Principals’ Association (NAPSPA) were wrong to boycott a consultation on the reopening of schools with the Ministry of Education on Monday.
Speaking to Newsday in a phone interview on Tuesday, Maharaj said he attended the meeting and felt strongly that TTUTA and NAPSPA should have been there as well.
“It was disrespectful on their part not to turn up,” he said. “We (the denominational boards) did not complain. We just decided to have a meeting prior (to the 4 pm consultation with the ministry) at 2 pm and explained to the ministry that we needed more time.
The groups that did not attend, he said, were "a hindrance. They must know their place.”
He said Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly was concerned by their absence, since the ministry had already arranged a meeting with TTUTA at 4 pm on Tuesday.
Education stakeholders were e-mailed the draft guidelines for the reopening of schools 2021/2022 on Friday to be discussed at Monday afternoon’s meeting.
Maharaj agreed that the draft was sent out at short notice.
But, he said, “Sometimes these things need to be done.”
He said those who attended the meeting all asked for more time to review the draft before giving full feedback, to which Gadsby-Dolly agreed.
He said stakeholders were told another meeting had been scheduled for Friday with the ministry to discuss the draft and that the Association of Denominational School Boards will convene again before Friday’s meeting and produce a joint paper with amendments for consideration.
“My take on it is that TTUTA, the National Parent Teacher Association (NPTA), and NAPSPA have been infiltrating the education system and made to believe they are the major stakeholders, and they are not.”
He said they have no say in the selection of a teacher, as that is left up to the ministry.
“But for some reason, within the last four to five years, mainstream media has made them a powerhouse (and) now they need recognition.”
He said he and other education colleagues are “disturbed” by their actions.
TTUTA president Antonia Tekah-De Freitas said on Monday that stakeholders should have been consulted before the draft was produced.
“I don’t feel insulted by it,” said Maharaj. “I feel we were not given sufficient time, which we have now gotten.”
Some of the draft needs to be reviewed and fine-tuned, he admitted.
He said although the SDMS schools are doing very well at this time, things are not business as usual.
“We have to create a new norm and if they don’t want to be a part of the norm, I can’t say anything else. But don’t be critical of anything we put to the table.”