Judge: Pay teachers more …students need brightest minds teaching them

Call­ing for teach­ers to be giv­en the same salaries as doc­tors, lawyers and en­gi­neers, High Court Judge Frank Seep­er­sad says too of­ten teach­ers in T&T are treat­ed un­fair­ly and with­out re­spect.

Speak­ing at the Na­pari­ma Col­lege Founders Day at the school's au­di­to­ri­um on Wednes­day, Seep­er­sad said the role of teach­ers must nev­er be un­der­es­ti­mat­ed.

"Our teach­ers have been tak­en for grant­ed and their pro­fes­sion­al de­vel­op­ment has to be viewed as a mat­ter of na­tion­al im­por­tance," Seep­er­sad said.

"There must be a shift in the way teach­ers are per­ceived and they should be af­ford­ed the same de­gree of re­spect and re­mu­ner­a­tion which is af­ford­ed to doc­tors, lawyers and en­gi­neers."

Not­ing that teach­ers had a sa­cred du­ty to mould the na­tion's chil­dren, Seep­er­sad added, "This pro­fes­sion should be re­mod­elled to en­sure the bright­est and most com­pe­tent feel com­pelled to re­spond to the call to fash­ion the fu­ture by mould­ing the minds of our youth."

He al­so point­ed out that cur­rent­ly, chil­dren are not be­ing ed­u­cat­ed for the fu­ture.

"While stu­dents have con­tin­ued to ex­cel we have teth­ered them to knowl­edge and skills which were more ap­pro­pri­ate to pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions," Seep­er­sad con­tend­ed.

He said T&T now need­ed "lat­er­al thinkers" and cre­ativ­i­ty must be en­cour­aged. He not­ed that in a world of in­creas­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, stu­dents must be taught how to de­vel­op height­ened lev­els of emo­tion­al in­tel­li­gence.

"Stu­dents must see their pri­ma­ry and sec­ondary school ex­pe­ri­ence as one which de­vel­ops wis­dom as op­posed to mere­ly im­part­ing knowl­edge," he said.

Seep­er­sad al­so said the way suc­cess is gauged should be re­de­fined.

"We live in an era where he­roes are few and fad­ing. Lead­ing an eth­i­cal life is not viewed as be­ing crit­i­cal and the ac­qui­si­tion of ma­te­r­i­al wealth ap­pears to be the ul­ti­mate goal," he lament­ed.

He said this re­de­f­i­n­i­tion starts with the trans­for­ma­tion of the way knowl­edge is im­part­ed and there­fore teach­ers must play a crit­i­cal role.

Mean­while, mod­er­a­tor of the Pres­by­ter­ian Church Annabell Lal­la-Ramkelawan said prop­er mech­a­nisms must be put in place to help chil­dren. Mak­ing ref­er­ence to a re­cent video where stu­dents from a sec­ondary school in Diego Mar­tin were seen smok­ing mar­i­jua­na, Lal­la-Ramkelawan said al­though mar­i­jua­na has not yet been de­crim­i­nalised stu­dents were al­ready us­ing the drug.

Say­ing she stud­ied in Ja­maica and could smell mar­i­jua­na a mile off, Lal­la-Ramkelawan said trou­bled stu­dents of­ten have no help.

"What is the mech­a­nism to help chil­dren? In the Pres­by­ter­ian schools, we have the chap­lain, so­cial work­ers and the mod­er­a­tor who care about you, but some schools don't have that," she said. She said de­nom­i­na­tion­al schools have put struc­tures in place to help pupils and this should be em­u­lat­ed in oth­er schools.

Al­so at­tend­ing the func­tion were May­or Ju­nia Re­grel­lo and Na­pari­ma Col­lege prin­ci­pal Dr Micheal Dowlath.

The school cel­e­brat­ed 125 years hav­ing been found­ed by Cana­di­an mis­sion­ar­ies in 1894.

Reporter: Radhica De Silva

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