A large number of university students turned up at the Ministry of Education in Port of Spain on Thursday to ensure they met the deadline to drop off teaching applications and get a teacher’s registration number.
On September 16, the Teaching Service Commission announced it would no longer accept unsolicited applications for teaching jobs as of September 30. It said vacancies will be advertised on a needs basis, and people will be invited to apply for positions.
Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly explained to Newsday that the demand had far outstripped the need or supply of such posts.
The announcement has caused many who are finishing their tertiary studies to become concerned about their employment prospects in the education sector.
Rita Ramcharan, a University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) student who is doing a Bachelors of Education, described the application procedure as long, hectic and disorganised.
“It felt like we had no hope, so we have no choice but to come up here even though we don’t have a degree yet.”
Ramcharan said the ministry implied that without a teaching application, current students will not be able to get a job.
“They (the ministry) told me the deadline was yesterday, so today is lock-off day. We, however, called and they told us to come today. They were sending us back, but we stayed and by force they had to take us.”
She questioned the availability of the programmes being offered at local universities.
“What is the point of continuing a programme if the field is so saturated and there aren’t employment opportunities? This is giving false hope to students. Stop the programme and start something new because you (UTT) are wasting my time and your time.”
Newsday also spoke with another UTT student in her final year of her Bachelors of Education. She said she was advised to return to the ministry on Friday to pay for her teacher’s number.
“I got here after 10 am to apply for my teacher’s number, but I have to come back tomorrow since all government cashiers are closed.”
Newsday tried contacting TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) president Antonia De Freitas but all calls went unanswered.