Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 24th 2014 Contents A9
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About five or six schools have
to be closed on a daily basis
because of an array of problems,
from rat infestations to sewer
problems, Education Minister Dr
Tim Goopeesingh said yesterday.
But the ministry is fast-tracking
a programme with the Education
Facilities Company Ltd and Local
Government Minister Marlene
Coudray to speed up repairs, he
Gopeesingh was answering
questions at yesterday s post-Cab-
inet media conference at the Office
of the Prime Minister, St Clair.
"Teams have been set up
throughout the ministry to repair
the schools as fast as possible. I
have sought the help of Marlene
Coudray (Minister of Local Gov-
ernment) to help with sewer prob-
lems," he added.
Gopeesingh said part of the
problem with electrical systems at
some schools was that they were
being upgraded with air-condi-
"When air-conditioning systems
are put in, electrical systems have
to be changed," he noted.
He said the ministry had done
rewiring work in 30 secondary
education a priority
Gopeesingh also said Cabinet
yesterday approved the People s
Partnership pledge in its 2010
manifesto on the issue of universal
early childhood education.
He said Prime Minister Kamla
Persad-Bissessar had asked for that
mandate to be fulfilled before 2015,
the year a general election is due.
Noting that 70 per cent of a
person s intellectual development
occurred in the first seven years
of life, he said early childhood edu-
cation remained one of the Gov-
ernment s main priorities and there
were 38,000 children between the
ages of three and four who needed
to be taken care of.
Gopeesingh said close to 7,000
of those children were categorised
as underprivileged and under-
"There must be a space for every
one of them," he added.
Cabinet has approved the con-
struction of 24 early childhood
centres which will start in a month
and will accommodate 10,500 chil-
dren. They will be constructed by
contractors at a cost of around $6
million each, he said.
"We plan to do 150 between now
and the first term of 2015."
There was a plan to include pri-
vately-run 571 childhood centres
into the ministry s plans, he said,
and analyses had found most of
them were up to standard and 80
below what was acceptable.
The T&T Unified Teachers Asso-
ciation (TTUTA) is calling on the
Education Ministry to address
urgently issues at seven schools
where there are no classes, resulting
in over 2,000 students being affect-
ed.Teachers have refused to work and
some parents are keeping their chil-
dren home because of a range of
issues, including rat infestation, leak-
ing sewers, mould outbreak and
The schools are: Princes Town East
Secondary, Princes Town West Sec-
ondary, Santa Rita RC in Rio Claro,
Vos Government Primary in Gaspar-
illo, Erin Road Presbyterian, Exchange
RC in Couva and North Manzanilla
TTUTA s second vice-president,
Lynsley Doodhai, said yesterday,
"TTUTA is extremely concerned at
the number of schools that have had
to be closed since the new term start-
"We are even more concerned
about the conditions under which
many of our members are expected
to work. TTUTA will not under any
circumstances allow our members to
work in sub-standard conditions."
He called on the ministry to
address the issues so that teaching
and learning was not further com-
The T&T Guardian obtained a copy
of a letter TTUTA sent to the min-
istry yesterday, urging it to address
issues at the 38-year-old Princes
Town West, where teachers walked
off the job on Tuesday.
"The teachers have been trying
their best to cope with the dangerous
situation for quite a long time and
have reached the stage where they
are no longer willing to risk their
health and safety and that of the stu-
dents," it said.
Termites, rats and
gas leaks among issues
Among the issues are termite-rid-
den work stations, leaking gas lines
and leaking chemical-storage facilities
at the chemistry, biology and physics
Missing ceilings and windows,
mould in several classrooms, rusty
steel beams, unstable steps and the
toilets at the technical vocational
block have also been condemned.
Santa Rita RC s PTA representative,
Affi Yearwood, said there had been
no classes since Monday because of
rat droppings and a leaking sewer.
She said on Tuesday representatives
from the ministry visited the school
but the school had received no word
"We have no choice but to keep
our children home because the rat
droppings are causing irritation to
the children s skin, eyes and throat,"
Collin James, a parent, complained
about a mould outbreak and a non-
functioning air-conditioning system
at Princes Town East Secondary
which caused teachers to walk off
the job two weeks ago.
TTUTA has called for air testing
but nothing had been done so far, it
At Vos Government teachers
refused to work on January 13 because
of problems with the electrical sys-
tem, rat infestation, toilets and drain
Teachers returned on Monday but
school was dismissed because of the
rat problem. Rat bait was placed in
the school but when teachers
returned yesterday the problem was
still there and they left.
A rat infestation also caused the
closure of Erin Road Presbyterian last
Wednesday and Exchange RC was
closed because of a sewer problem.
And since the new school term
opened North Manzanilla Govern-
ment has been closed because the
building has been deemed unsafe.
TTUTA to ministry:
Seven schools out, 2,000 affected
Repairs on fast track---Dr Tim
Members of the Tobago arm of the T&TEC Retirees' Association and
Providence Fund members held a placard protest in front of T&TEC's Fredrick
Street, Port-of-Spain, office yesterday for backpay owed to them since 2002.
PHOTO: MARYANN AUGUSTE
PROTEST FOR PENSION
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