Monday 24 September, 2018

MoE assures payment to 13 private secondary schools

Education Minister Anthony Garcia is seeking to assure the faculty and staff across 13 private secondary schools that they will be paid their stipend from the Government as early as tomorrow.

Minister Garcia held a media conference at the Education Towers on Monday to address the non-payment of fees to private schools. The conference followed a media release which was issued by the Bishops Centenary College announcing that students were sent home as a result of the non-payment of fees. The statement also noted that the majority of staff did not turn up for school today.

Speaking with members of the media, Minister Garcia said he was aware of the issue but that the schools will be paid.

"I got in contact with our senior officials here at the Ministry of Education, our Director of Finance and Accounts… I also spoke with the Minister of Finance and I want to give all those schools the assurance and indeed the country the assurance but most importantly, the parents of those students who have been sent home, I wish to give the assurance today, this evening that very shortly and I stress very shortly, all these schools will be paid their stipends.”

"All 13 private secondary schools will receive their cheques... If we say tomorrow, don’t be surprised if they get the cheques in their hand Wednesday because of the process but I’ve just been informed by the Director of Finance and Accounts that the money will be available as early as tomorrow." 

The Education Minister acknowledged that teachers at the 13 schools were not paid as a result of this country's inability to source cash based on the current economic crisis.

He said, however, that he is committed to ensuring that those employed under the Education Ministry are compensated for their duties.

"It is our intention to ensure that we meet our commitment and that teachers are paid for their services. I understand the plight of the school administration, I understand the plight of the teachers in all 13 schools and I want to ensure that the challenges that these schools are experiencing now will come to an end in the not too distant future."

According to Garcia, the amount of money owed to each school depends on the number of students placed there through the SEA exam. The Government through the Ministry of Education, pays a stipend of approximately $1200 a term for each student. In each of these schools, more than 90% of the students are facilitated for by the Government.

Meanwhile, the Minister gave the commitment that the Ministry will work towards ensuring that this problem does not reoccur. He also noted that despite the shortfall of cash, the Ministry and the Government by extension is focused on ensuring the continuation of universal education for all.

"We are committed to universal Primary Education, we are committed to universal Secondary Education…Trinidad and Tobago is one of the few countries in the world where we have universal secondary education and we will do everything that is possible to ensure that all our students who leave primary school, will have an easy and a smooth transition to our secondary schools."