Monday 16 September, 2019

Gopeesingh to Rowley: Fire Garcia now

Education Minister Anthony Garcia.

Education Minister Anthony Garcia.

Caroni East MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh has once again called on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to fire Education Minister Anthony Garcia, over his “incompetence” and “deceitfulness” as it relates to the reopening of schools in time for the commencement of the September 2017 academic year.

Yesterday, the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association announced that at least nine schools had their normal operations affected due to issues ranging from electrical to infrastructural problems.

In light of this, the former Education Minister slammed Garcia whom he said failed to keep his promise of a comprehensive vacation repair and maintenance programme.

He said coupled with failure to repair and maintain all schools, Minister Garcia has also neglected to keep his promise to pay workers employed under his Ministry which has exacerbated the negative impact on school operations.

“The schools repair issue was compounded by the non-payment of fees to maxi-taxi school transport concessionaires, thus leading to scores of students not being able to attend classes. Mr. Garcia had faithfully committed to make payments “before the school term begins”, only to renege on his word yet again. Several drivers have found themselves unable to afford to buy food for their families, and fuel, insurance and maintenance for their vehicles, meet their mortgage payments and even secure school supplies for their children. There has also been non-payment to service providers of meals to students in the National Schools Dietary Services Ltd. Schools Guidance Officers were forced to take action because of long-outstanding debts in allowances and dues,” Gopeesingh said.

Meanwhile, the Caroni East MP further criticized Minister Garcia for dismantling or reversing policies which he said served to benefit the education system.

“Mr. Garcia has also scrapped the programme which had employed 250 facilitators and moderators and which had made a significant impact on students’ performance. The Parenting in Education and the teacher training and development programmes have been curtailed. There are several vacancies in the teaching service, with only the part-replacement of teachers who have retired. The delivery of the much-promised computer laptops to schools has not taken place. The Schools Homework Centres remain closed and textbooks are still not being made available to needy students. Mr. Garcia continues to reverse successful and vital policy measures that had each contributed to greater achievements at all levels of the education system,” he noted.

The former Government Minister also condemned the Minister for his failure to complete construction on 75 schools which were being built by the People’s Partnership Government. He said the buildings have been left to decay, subjected to vandalism and overgrown bushes.

Gopeesingh said Dr Rowley, in light of all of these mishaps, must take the necessary steps to send home the Education Minister.

“For the good of Trinidad and Tobago’s leaders of tomorrow, I again implore Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley to relieve the inept and bungling Mr. Garcia of his post and to place the critical education portfolio in the hands of a competent, committed, hardworking and visionary officer.The country’s students should not be made to further endure the impact of the most wretched and hopeless Minister of Education in Trinidad and Tobago’s modern history,” he said.

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