Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 23rd 2018 Contents A20
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
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An education on education
The challenges faced by some of our tertiary educa-
tion providers like UTT and Costatt are a reason for
concern but also an opportunity for us to reflect on
the country’s educational model.
Over the past decades Trinidad and Tobago set up
programmes to open up its higher education provi-
sion to a more diverse group of students, aimed at in-
creasing social mobility. The introduction of GATE—to
subsidise tertiary education for all—was a natural step
in that process.
But, like other nations, T&T has seen a few problem-
atic side-effects. One is “degree inflation”: the more
graduates are formed, the more the labour market
then looks at those with Masters and PhDs as a selec-
tion criteria. The other problem is a potential discon-
nect between funding university degrees and what the
country needs to develop and grow.
Irrespective of transitionary challenges faced by
some of our institutions, what we need—and urgently—
is a deep review of our education strategy from early
years to higher levels, so that we have a coherent and
effective policy designed to make T&T the economic
powerhouse it deserves to be in the 21st century.
Bridging the gap
The Prime Minister’s continuous effort to establish a
communication channel with stakeholders in Tobago
is to be commended. Dialogue is always better than
brickbats hurled across the islands. Stakeholders’ pa-
tience has a limit, though, and the government needs
to do more to support and grow Tobago’s economy.
In a highly competitive tourism industry, Tobago
already has a challenge as one of the islands in the
Caribbean furthest away from big tourism markets
like North America and Europe. Poorly maintained
or under-dimensioned infrastructure, skills shortage
and perennial transport problems can hardly help the
island grow its market share.
Of mounts and volcanoes
The man who brought us the concept of Mount Trin-
idad to show the steep drop our energy industry faces
over the next few years brought us a more up-to-date
version to the 2018 Energy Conference.
The good news is that, with the right policies in place
and a fair wind, Rystad Energy’s Kjetil Solbraekke be-
lieves the inevitable downhill production journey may
be less steep than originally feared.
He also sounded a note of caution, advising against
T&T relying on Venezuela for its strategic energy plans
given our neighbour’s instability. He is right: if we face
the challenges of a steep mountain, Venezuela faces
an exploding volcano.
Soca veterans Machel Montano, left, and SuperBlue during the first live performance of their Road March
contender, Soca Kingdom since the song’s release last week, during Fete with the Saints at St Mary’s College
Grounds in St Clair on Saturday.
PICTURE COURTESY JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK
This place jokey, yes!
(As the big mouth amazingly back
on radio in the afternoon was
won’t to say). The only place I have
ever seen a traffic police patrol is
in front of the gasoline station on
Another hospital being built.
This time in Port-of-Spain where
the Central Block is expected to
fall down any minute. Does one
get hospitalised there at one’s own
risk? Does one need insurance?
Are nurses and doctors getting
What about demolition duty
pay? I am available for consulta-
tion, Mr Duke.
Finally there was the news that
a “Former PNM minister” had
passed on. As my friend the ortho-
dontist likes to ask, “ where to?”
Interestingly she “passed away” in
Costa Rica. Costa Rica? I thought
Panama was the place all good
Trinis go after making their name
in TT politics? At least we were
spared the honorary funeral.
Exhausting business, this read-
ing of the newspapers. Fortunately
it ended with an excellent column
by Mariano Browne, the only ra-
tional voice in the PNM now that
Penny and Amery have been sent
into exile, on the incompetence
of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs
whose foreign policy seems to be
summed up in the phrase, “when
yuh doh know what to do, ab-
stain.” Joke! Joke!
the profits for a couple years and
when the company goes under, in-
sist that taxpayers have a duty to
pay you back.
Occasionally, the newspapers
come good as on Thursday Janu-
ary 4 when the Guardian made for
a hilarious read. The front page
headline was “No Food for Jury!”
Inside the court room the advice
from the judge was, “Walk with
Caterers were no longer ac-
cepting Government vouchers for
lunch because “you know how
long the government takes to pay.”
Enterprising doubles vendors
leaped at the opportunity.
Page six greeted us with the
stale news that there was “Chaos
in Tobago as Ferry Service Down”.
The 8.30 am sailing cancelled
because of “electrical“ prob-
lems with the steering. People
had started boarding from 3 am.
Well...too bad, life is a bitch.
“Government gets report on
Petrotrin’s future”. Decision not
made on what form the restruc-
turing will take but the PM was
expected to give details at his next
TV address. Well...too bad, we
On page 7 the TTPS was claim-
ing success in its fight against
road fatalities. Fourteen per cent
reduction and so on. “Strict en-
forcement” and “speed guns” con-
tributed to the decrease. Whaaaa?
atire can be defined
as “the use of hu-
mour, irony, exagger-
ation or ridicule to
expose and criticise
people’s stupidity or
vices, particularly in the context
of contemporary politics and
other topical issues”.
Returning to T&T one was sur-
prised to find no evidence of sat-
ire on the boob tube or the written
Satire was everywhere in Ven-
ezuela and the USA, not here. It
took me lots of walking around
Port-of-Spain to understand why.
The entire country is one big
satire. If you wanted a cynical
laugh all you had to do was walk
out of the hospital and down Char-
One laughed from the hospital
gates to Independence Square
and it was not because of the
“mad” people coming down from
St Ann’s busily muttering to them-
The jokes and exaggeration
were so intense that one felt that
there were more “mad” people
outside St Ann’s than inside, a
feeling that has grown over the
How else can one explain the
incompetence of the Tobago ferry
commess, led by a politician from
Tobago who, one would think,
would be especially interested
in regularising that bridge rather
than building a road to Toco. That
“Highway to Toco” is right up
there with the “tunnel through
the Northern Range” to Maracas
idea. Or the three-day Presiden-
tial pappyshow, complete with
meaningless ceremony and traffic
jam. The death of any President is
meaningless to citizens.
What about the long running
CLICO saga? A classic case of “pri-
vatising profits and socialising
losses”. Invest riskily, run with
Dr David Bratt
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