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Do better, Mr Minister

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Today, as students collect their SEA results, what should be a time for celebration of the academic achievements of many is overshadowed by the impasse between the T&T Association of Private Secondary Schools and the Education Ministry.

On the face of it, the problem seems to be clear. It cannot be fair to pay these schools just $1,200 per student for school places that cost $7,000. It is no wonder that the affected private schools are facing no end of financial woes to the extent that one of them—Bishop Centenary College—had a walkout of staff who have not yet been paid this month.

Mr Garcia, himself a former principal who functioned at both the primary and secondary levels, knows from experience that among the things required for efficient functioning of a school, is adequate funding. He should also be keenly aware of the negative effects these situations have on the learning environment.

The minister’s assurances that the issue is being dealt with are of no help this late in the school year. Too much is at stake here for this not to be treated with greater urgency.

The dignity of a response

A vacancy now exists for a new T&T High Commissioner to India due to the resignation of attorney Dave Persad. From what Mr Persad wrote in his letter of resignation to Prime Minster Dr Keith Rowley, there is a serious breakdown in communication. In matters of foreign affairs, this is the kind of clogging of diplomatic channels that the country can ill afford.

According to Mr Persad, he had raised some serious concerns about the operations of the High Commission in a May 30 letter, followed by a June 11 email. There has not even been acknowledgement of either communication.

If Mr Persad’s complaint had been the exception rather than the norm, then this could have been handled as a simple breakdown in communication. However, these complaints have been frequent at several levels of government operation.

It is a simple courtesy to at least acknowledge receipt of a letter, even if the response to issues raised therein are not immediately forthcoming. However, the deafening silence emanating from these and other incidents is cause for serious concern.

Age is just a number

Happy Birthday to the vibrant and energetic Juliana Valentine who was very much the life of her 100th birthday party on Monday. Scoring a century is no easy feat, but Ms Valentine who sang and danced during celebrations in her honour in Aripo Village, is proof that it is not so much about the years of your life but the life in your years.


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