Thursday 22 August, 2019

MP calls for Garcia's removal over 'SEA uncertainty'

Caroni East MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh continues to call for the removal of Education Minister Anthony Garcia, this time over uncertainty faced by students who sat the 2018 Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam on their placements at private secondary schools.

The call from the former minister comes as members of the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Private Secondary Schools are reportedly now declining student intakes after having their pleas for a revision of the stipend paid to the members, ignored.

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Gopeesingh said the education sector continues to decline and decay under Garcia’s watch, accusing him of displaying “even more incompetence”.

Accusing the Minister of “non-performing”, the MP said the Ministry of Education continues to owe millions of dollars to the schools, which, as a result, are having difficulty in paying teachers and honouring other urgent bills.

Listing further ‘missteps’, Gopeesingh said the current situation is similar to that of the School Nutrition Programme (Schools Feeding), in which contractors are owed large sums and are, in turn, unable to meet their financial commitments.

Further, he said, the Education Facilities Company Ltd., (EFCL) has made little effort to liquidate debts to contractors, some of whom have had to retrench workers.

Gopeesingh also noted reports of delays in salary payment of the staff at the Education Ministry.

He cited the state of disrepair of some schools, the shutdown of Homework Centres, the abandonment of construction of schools and early childhood centres, the scrapping of the textbook programme and the discontinuance of the laptop programme as other reasons supporting the need for Garcia’s removal.

“Against that backdrop of retrograde measures, it is not surprising that education standards have slipped, after peaking in 2014 and 2015,” the former minister said.

He added that at the current rate of decline, the education sector may soon collapse to the backward state portrayed in the Mighty Sparrow’s “Dan is the Man” calypso of colonial Trinidad and Tobago.

“The greatest gift to the students and future leaders of Trinidad and Tobago is the removal of Mr. Garcia, the most worthless and inept Minister of Education ever,” Gopeesingh concluded.


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