Tributes flow for former PP minister - Fazal Karim dies at 70

UNC TO THE BONE: Former UNC MP and People’s Partnership minister of Tertiary 
Education and Skills Training Fazal Karim who has died. He was 70.  - File photo
UNC TO THE BONE: Former UNC MP and People’s Partnership minister of Tertiary Education and Skills Training Fazal Karim who has died. He was 70. - File photo

SINCE news of his death broke on Monday morning, relatives, former constituents and colleagues of former Minister of Tertiary Education and Skills Training Fazal Karim have been lauding him for his contributions to society.

Karim, 70, was a minister from 2010-2015 in the UNC-led People’s Partnership (PP) coalition government, as well as a former MP for Chaguanas East (2015-2020).

A statement from his family described him as the epitome of a servant of the people and someone who dedicated his entire life to empowering people of all ages through education and skills training.

It said, “He was especially passionate about elevating the status and recognition of vocational skills and worked tirelessly towards the parity of esteem of the sector, envisioning and pioneering the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) through CXC, the Workforce Assessment Centres, and many other innovative initiatives to provide widespread access to vocational education and training.

“As an administrator, educator and community activist, he positively impacted the lives of tens of thousands of people across the region, constantly creating new programmes and projects to help people find pathways to employment and advancement, even while serving as an MP in opposition.”

He is the third veteran politician to have died since December and follows former THA chief secretary Hochoy Charles who died on December 31, and former prime minister Basdeo Panday who died on January 01.

Karim’s family said he left an indelible mark on the lives, hearts and souls of the nation’s children, having removed barriers to access for educational and career advancement.

It said Karim made opportunities for learning widely available through his expansion of the GATE programme, as well as several educational institutions like UWI, UTT, COSTAATT, MIC, NESC and YTEPP. Karim also served as the CEO of the National Training Agency from 1999-2007, and of YTEPP from 1997-1999.

The family described him as a man of the people and said people would remember often seeing him in the markets buying produce on weekends, shopping in grocery and hardware stores, and at community events regularly.

“He embraced people of all religions, ethnicities and economic levels and remained a humble, accessible and kind man regardless of position and place in life,” the statement said.

“As far as he was concerned, Fazal’s greatest love and accomplishment was his family. He was an adoring and dedicated husband, father, father-in-law and grandfather and for him, no task was ever too great for his beloved family, who loved him endlessly and stayed by his side to the very end.

“He will be missed by his family, his community and all of the people whose lives he touched.”

Karim leaves to mourn his wife of 47 years, Apostle Dr Judy Karim, children Rhonda, Ria and Rhion, son-in-law Dr Colin Samuel, daughter-in-law Zita Karim, and grandchildren Jordan, Christen, Christopher-Reign, Victoria and Ethan-John.

The statement added that Karim served at the right hand of the late prime minister Basdeo Panday as the general secretary of the UNC from 2000-2010, as well as a senator in the PP government led by Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC.

Karim’s funeral is set for today.

His body is first expected to be taken to Greater Love Christian Centre Ministries in Carapichaima, then to the Carapichaima Masjid hall. Newsday visited the Chaguanas East constituency on Monday and spoke to several residents.

Ambeka Ramlakhan, 56, Mc Lean Drive in Enterprise, thanked him for building a box drain along the street. She said she did not interact with him, and he did not frequent the area.

Chaguanas East resident Ambeka Ramlakhan remembered former MP Fazal Karim for building box drains in Enterprise, Chaguanas. - Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Gardener Dale Richardson of Marajh Street, Enterprise, remembered Karim as a “good fella.”

Richardson added, “I would say hi and hello anytime we meet. I know he helped out a lot of people workwise.”

Enterprise, Chaguanas resident Dale Richardson. - Photo by Angelo Marcelle

PH driver Amid Mohammed did not comment on Karim’s legacy, but instead complained about the deplorable conditions at Welcome Road, saying it continues to damage vehicles.

Welcome Road, Chaguanas resident Amid Mohammed says, his road has never been repaired no matter who was in government. - Photo by Angelo Marcelle


"Tributes flow for former PP minister – Fazal Karim dies at 70"

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