Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 18th 2015 Contents OCTOBER 18 • 2015 www.guardian.co.tt SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | SBG5
And in August 2015, making what he
termed the "second most difficult decision
of his life," Gomez said goodbye to the
A 'light bulb' goes on
Partnering with Scott Hilton-Clarke,
Gomez came up with the concept for Exam-
Guru. Private lessons centres have prolif-
erated in a society that has always seen edu-
cation as the ultimate stepping stone. But
the numbers show that something has been
going wrong with our education system,
and possibly, the private lessons industry
which has sprung up around it, for some
Gomez said he has reviewed CXC results
for the past several years. Typically, for
Accounting, two-thirds of the 24,000 stu-
dents sitting it were failing. In Math, two-
thirds of 95,000 students around the region
sitting the exam were failing.
Results were particularly dismal for the
the multiple choice and long paper segments,
but a hint at where the system may be failing
students lies in the fact that many made
up much needed marks in the SBA (School
Based Assessment) segment.
"This is where the teachers support the
kids and help them," said Gomez, a critical
component of the ExamGuru experience he
and Hilton-Clarke want to offer.
Too often, said Gomez, the focus was on
getting students to pass the exam, with
memorisation and rote learning.
"I think every individual in life needs
coaching and mentorship.The school envi-
ronment is somewhere coaching and men-
torship must be provided as well."
According to Gomez, ExamGuru "is a
catalyst to demonstrate that with expert
facilitation in a fun, immersive environment,
kids can build the capacity to ace the exam."
Gomez said ExamGuru is guided by one
philosophy: "If they (the students) bring
the will, we'll give them the skill".
Add to this is a cutting-edge facility, cur-
rently being constructed at Bay Road in St.
James, called the "Light Bulb." The building
is a place Gomez envisions teenagers will
be able to come together and collaborate,
or have quiet study time. When completed,
the Light Bulb will feature glass and white
writing walls, high speed Internet access,
computers, tablets and a cafe. It is expected
that the facility will be completed some
time in December.
Gomez said so far, accounting is Exam-
Guru's only subject offering, with himself
as tutor. Given his 25 years experience in
the area, he thought this would be the best
subject to pilot the project.
Eventually though, he wants to branch
into other subject areas and use the MOOC
(Massive Open Online Course) format of
delivery to have online broadcasts of lecturers
by some of the best subject teachers in the
Public/Private partnership in education
ExamGuru is a private enterprise.
"No funding other than the owners. So
I have to charge a fee. I can't not charge a
fee. I have no way of doing that financially
at this point," said Gomez. " This is private
enterprise, stepping into a space that has
always been held as a public good."
The former EY country manager said
he has been leveraging his contacts within
the business community, has been having
meetings with several people who are very
supportive of the concept.
If the pilot is successful, Gomez plans
to eventually approach the Ministry of
Education to partner with it to mainstream
"I feel that private enterprise needs to
step into certain roles and this is an ideal
opportunity for a private/public partner-
ship. Government can at least allow private
enterprise to show the way, together we
can collaborate on how this can becoming
"Private enterprise has to take a greater
role in society and step up their game and
let us not just continue to look at govern-
ment to make everything happen. I think
there is a place for private enterprise to
step into things that they may not have
traditionally. That can make a huge dif-
ference in society."
Gomez told the Sunday BG that he has
had meetings with several school principals
in the vicinity and he has been well
The registration process is ongoing and
classes are expected to begin in January
Nicholas Gomez, left, Josee Da Costa, and Scott Hilton-Clarke.
'The private sector
needs to step up its game'
From Page 4
It is a fact that several measures in the
2015/2016 T&T budget have the potential to
increase prices in the domestic economy. I
say potential because even if the measures
translate into higher costs for some producers
or suppliers of goods and services, prices to
the consumer however, need not be affected to the
same extent or at all.
Measures in the new budget which have the poten-
tial to increase prices include the 15 per cent increase
on diesel and super gasoline, the widening of the
base of goods on which VAT is now charged, increases
in the Green Fund and Business Levy etc. These
measures can affect the cost of transport, previously
zero-rated goods and services and the overall cost
of doing business.
Final prices to consumers need not reflect the full
cost prompted by the budget measures because of
how markets work or are supposed to work. As an
example, some suppliers of goods and services may
choose to maintain a price-competitive edge, in which
case higher costs need not be passed on to retailers
In other words, as a result of the Government's
revenue-raising measures, the new price to the con-
sumer might be some fraction of the higher cost or
he/she need not face any increase at all.
In general, each seller/supplier is likely to be in a
different financial position because of varying input
costs, profit margins and marketing strategy. Accord-
ingly, increased costs are likely to affect sellers/suppliers
and the final price of a product differently. Some
might be able to absorb all costs and some only a
part of the increased costs.
The result is likely to be different prices for the
consumer and different profit margins for businesses.
For example, a taxi driver might gain more customers
and income, if, all things equal, he or she does not
pass on higher costs to his or her passengers.
Admittedly, the above is a simplified version of
how more efficient markets work. Markets however,
are not perfect and businesses do not always behave
in a fair and competitive manner. Neither, unfortu-
nately, are customers always alert nor, do they always
protect their own self interests. Therefore most market
economies have agencies that seek to promote fair
trade among businesses as well as to protect con-
Ideally, there ought not to be any collusive or anti-
competitive behaviour by businesses in setting prices.
Since this is not always the case, this country's newly
established Fair Trading Commission (FTC) is charged
with the responsibility of ensuring this does not hap-
pen and that fair trade guides business practices.
Similarly, the Consumer Guidance Council is charged
with the responsibility of protecting consumers.
The 2015/2016 budget may well be signalling a
trend in which businesses and consumers in T&T
may increasingly face less-subsidised and therefore
more internationally competitive prices. In this envi-
ronment business associations and the relevant agen-
cies, such as the FTC, must caution against price
gouging and anti-competitive behaviour.
By the same token, the Consumer Guidance Council
and other consumer organisations must play a strong
role in consumer education and protecting the interests
of consumers. These initiatives will go a long way
in ensuring a more efficient economy.
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