Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 2nd 2017 Contents news A7
Thursday, March 2, 2017 guardian.co.tt
An estimated 82 per cent of
secondary school pupils were
absent from schools across the
country yesterday, the Educa-
tion Ministry announced yester-
day. The attendance at primary
schools was a slightly better with
a 26 per cent of pupils showing
up for classes.
And parents were
blamed for the high
level of absenteeism.
At a press confer-
ence held at the Ed-
ucation Ministry in
day Education Minis-
ter Anthony Garcia
described the situ-
ation as untenable.
He said it was the
of parents to en-
sure children went
He said he intends
to continue discussions
with all stakeholders to
determine whether it was
feasible to have school
during Carnival week.
Last year, 31 per cent of
primary school students
attended school while
this year the average
was 26.3 per cent.
who went to
year was 22.8
per cent but
this year the
ary schools have always been poor
and the idea to extend vacation for
the three days following Carnival had
been raised before.
Garcia said the majority of teach-
ers at secondary and primary school
teachers reported for duty, average
of 81 per cent, but there were hardly
any children in school.
"The attendance of our teachers
has been very good. The attendance
of students has been poor and we
cannot just sit idly by and allow this
situation to continue because this
must be addressed. Children must
have access to a quality education.
"It pains us when we look at the
statistics to see that while our teach-
ers are making an effort, a large num-
ber of students remain home," Garcia
said as he appealed to parents to send
their children to school today and to-
He said the reason why children
stayed away from classes maybe be-
cause parents felt teachers would be
absent. But this premise, the minister
added, was unfounded.
"That fear is not true. Children
are under the jurisdiction of their
parents and when children remain
at home they are being deprived of
an education and it also amounts to
a waste of resources," Garcia added.
Chief Education Officer Harrilal
Seecharan who also spoke said at
the beginning of the academic year
circulars were issued to all schools
stating there would be classes as usual
on Ash Wednesday.
He commended teachers who
heeded the call by the ministry to
turn out for classes but added student
absenteeism on Ash Wednesday was
a perennial problem.
Minister in the Ministry of Educa-
tion Lovell Francis said parents were
sending the wrong message to their
children when they refused to send
them to school on Ash Wednesday.
"It sends a message that we are not
productive on that day and this is not
the message we want to send to our
children. We need to teach our chil-
dren it is important to be productive,"
Garcia: Situation untenable
Chief Education Officer Harrilal Seecharan, left, and Education
Minister Anthony Garcia at yesterday's press conference.
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
Parents blamed for
high pupil absenteeism
Archbishop Joseph Harris yes-
terday called upon Roman Catho-
lics to be less materialistic in their
lives as they prepare for Lent.
Harris made the call while deliver-
ing the homily at the Ash Wednesday
service at the Cathedral of Immaculate
Conception, Independence Square, Port-
of-Spain, yesterday afternoon.
Throughout his brief address to the half-
filled church Harris repeatedly referred to
greed and people's obsession with money
as a major issue affecting the church and by
"The recession has hit us, with the ensuing
job losses, and the gap between rich and poor
widens every day. Some of us live very well but
an increasing number of our sisters and brothers,
many of them our relatives and friends, are finding
it extremely difficult to make ends meet. There is
a rise in hopelessness but as Christians we do not
allow ourselves to lose heart.
"We must seek reconciliation with God because like
the Israelites of old, we have created other gods for our-
selves and have worshipped them. Money and
pleasure and power have become our
points of reference. We have for-
gotten the first commandment,"
Harris also stated that he be-
lieved that greed is also a major
contributing factor to spikes in
"Money, having become our
point of reference, has led us
into all kinds of problems; illicit
drugs, arms, human trafficking
and the problems which accom-
pany them. Financial corruption.
We have forgotten the scriptures
which say to us that "the love of
money is the root of all evils" and
that "we cannot serve God and mon-
ey," he said.
"Let us do this as the gospel read-
ing suggests, not to impress others but
so that the heavenly Father will see the
likeness of his Son in us and redeem our
land," he said.
Harris suggested that through re-
pentance, prayer and fasting
and being "ambassadors for
Christ," Catholics can as-
sist in making a tangible
"My dear friends who
come to have the ashes
put on your heads if you
are genuinely grieving for
the state of our nation and
wish to do whatever is
necessary to turn things
around. This is a com-
mitment to carrying the
cross of each day as you
strive to forget self and
live seeking the good of
others and that of our
nation," Harris said.
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