Former Education Minister and UNC MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh is calling on the Education Ministry to release the names of the top performing 200 students in the Secondary Entrance Examinations.
Speaking during an Opposition media conference on Thursday at the Office of the Opposition Leader, Port of Spain, Gopeesingh asked why the ministry was hiding the information.
“Why do you want to hide the top 200 students? Who gave you that instruction? Two families had to find out where their children placed through a Freedom of Information Act request. Why are you denying the children, who would have worked hard, the recognition they deserve? In every aspect of life there is a listing in terms of superiority. There was no consultation with stakeholders before making this move.”
He said a 20 member committee had been appointed to look into the SEA and the Concordat. He asked who the members of the committee were, who had appointed them, and what were the criteria used to appoint them to the committee. He asked if a report would be generated which would be ignored by the government.
“National consultations held from 2010 when we were in government, with almost 3,000 educators, having looked at it for two national consultations of four to five days each and eight district consultations, they never indicated about any interference in the Concordat and neither in the SEA, because they were not able to put together a format for dealing with the SEA. Some recommendations were made to bring on assessing students in Standards 3, 4, and 5.”
He said the Teaching Service Commission had always created difficulty in the hiring of teachers. He called on the newly elected President, under whose remit the appointment of members of the TSC falls, to intervene with the TSC.
“It wants to tell the denominational boards that I will appoint your teachers and send them to your schools without you vetting the teachers. The Concordat clearly states that a teacher shall not be appointed to a school if the denominational board objects to such an appointment.”
He criticised the Teaching Service Commission for its slow work in dealing with the hiring of teachers.
“You cannot continue to meet four to five half days a month when you have to deal with the files of 14,000 teachers, all of which are 50 or more pages thick. When there is an area for promotion or transfer, how could you be chasing 14,000 files across five or six different people before a promotion should be done. How can you have a depleted amount of administrative staff and hope that you can function properly? We call upon you to put your house in order and work with efficiency.”
Gopeesingh said the UNC expected there would be discussions between the members of the TSC and the President to bring the education system into proper focus and prevent legal implications.