Gopeesingh knocks Government cutbacks in education

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - 12:45

Former Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh is criticising the financial cutbacks made in the education sector.

Dr Gopeesingh, who is the Member of Parliament for Caroni East, issued this statement today.

"The Government has again displayed its negligence and lack of commitment to the education sector through sharp and reckless cutbacks in funding for critical measures.

The Opposition has exposed the Government’s drastic reduction in support for vital schools security, the school feeding programme, provision of textbooks and repairs to buildings.

The significant decreases in funding for these and other crucial aspects of the education sector further illustrates the absence of vision by the PNM regime for essential human capital development.

The dramatic cutbacks were revealed by the Opposition during a sitting of the Finance Committee of the House of Representatives.

It once more unveiled Education Minister Anthony Garcia as grossly incompetent and ill-equipped to lead the critical learning environment of Trinidad and Tobago’s students.

It is now apparent that Mr. Garcia had no input in the budgeting exercise of his Ministry and was subjected to willy-nilly cutbacks by Finance Minister Colm Imbert, which he had to defend and implement.

Mr. Garcia’s absence of participation in this important exercise further defines him as devoid of leadership skills, clueless about the critical needs of the sector and lacking a vision for the education system.

The unacceptable reduction in the budget for schools security is taking place at a worrying time of gun and other violence near several high-risk schools.

This irresponsible decrease in security funding leaves thousands of ambitious students defenceless and at risk of becoming innocent victims of violence.

The People’s Partnership Administration had assigned as many as eight skilled security officers at certain schools.

The Government has also whittled down the funding for the provision of nutritious school feeding meals, explaining that there are plans to increase the local content.

But the People’s Partnership Administration had boosted local content to an all-time high of 70 per cent.

The cutback in the supply of textbooks is already negatively impacting the education of a large number of students across Trinidad and Tobago.

In addition, about 65 schools currently require vital repairs, funding for which is not available.

Minister Garcia’s ineptitude was further exposed in his lack of knowledge of the Schools-Based Management system, which had been instituted by the People’s Partnership Administration.

The Minister represents a toxic brew of incompetence and arrogance, the victims of which are Trinidad and Tobago’s students and leaders of tomorrow.

I once more call on Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley to relieve the bungling Mr. Garcia of his ministerial post and to install an office-holder with the requisite skill, vision and temperament for this crucial sector."