Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 6th 2014 Contents A13
April 6, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
The Teaching Service Commission
(TSC) is awaiting closure on 33 reports
of teacher misconduct that are under
investigation by the Ministry of Edu-
Chairman of the TSC Hyacinth Guy
said some investigations have "taken
two to three years" and that this needs
to be fast-tracked so they can take
Before the end of 2014, Guy said,
the TSC would ensure that teachers be
investigated in 30 days under the Public
Service s regulations.
She feels the ministry needs to be
more proactive in dealing with the
increasing absenteeism, punctuality
issues and indiscipline among school
There are 12,719 primary and sec-
ondary teachers in T&T.
From 2007 to 2013, Guy said, 71
teachers were dismissed from the serv-
ice and 82 teachers were suspended.
So far for 2014, one teacher has been
dismissed and three suspended.
Since 2011, Guy said, the TSC has
been receiving reports of teacher mis-
conduct from the ministry.
"When we got those reports it was
an eye-opener," Guy said, speaking at
her Cipriani Boulevard, Port-of-Spain,
office on March 25.
Deal with worst offenders
The ministry s 2012 report, Guy said,
showed that 755 secondary school
teachers had exceeded their 14 days of
sick leave for that year.
Of this figure, 444 were absent
between 15 and 24 days, while 43 teach-
ers did not attend classes more than
It also showed that 472 teachers were
late for more than 1,000 minutes in
"We should know if the high level
of absence is warranted. Let us take
action...whatever it is. When you don t
come to school, it impacts. It puts the
burden on another teacher. One must
deal with the worst offenders. You have
to send that message so people would
know that this is not an environment
in which there are no consequences. It
gives the teachers the feeling that they
can do this and get away."
A 2013 report by the ministry, Guy
said, also showed there were 33 teachers
facing misconduct over the years.
Of the 33 teachers, two were being
investigated for absenteeism, Guy said.
While the ministry has investigated
one or two of the teachers, Guy said,
most investigations are still ongoing;
some are taking as long as three years.
No probe should exceed 30 days
Last year, Guy said, the TSC asked
the ministry to identify which teachers
have been consistently absent and abus-
ing the school system.
Based on the outcome of the inves-
tigations, the teachers may be charged
for misconduct according to the TSC
Last year, Guy asked the Director of
Personnel Administration (DPA) to
establish an investigating unit at the
TSC to deal with teachers accused of
The DPA and the Teaching Service
Secretariat provide administrative and
advisory services---in particular, legal
and regulatory services---which enable
the TSC to effectively discharge its
Through a cabinet note last year, Guy
said, the DPA was given the green light
to set up the unit, which still needs to
be staffed with investigators.
TSC to Education Ministry:
Move fast on
33 reports of misconduct
Guy leaves TSC in August
In August, Guy leaves the TSC, a
position she has held for three
Guy has been managing the TSC,
which is responsible for disciplining
The TSC has been operating with
Guy and two other members:
Gillian Paul and Alwyn Daniel.
Last year, Dr Anna Mahase and
Prof Ramesh Deosaran's term on
the commission came to an end.
Information officer at the Office
of the President Theron Boodan
said the two positions would be
filled by President Anthony
The TSC, Guy said, would not
be involved in the investigation
Guy said the unit was imperative
in order to investigate matters
According to the Public Service s
regulations, Guy said, an investi-
gation should not exceed 30 days;
the TSC wants this implemented.
Teachers can face action for
turning a blind eye to bullying
Reports have also reached the
TSC about teachers displaying
inappropriate photographs on their
"Actually the ministry should
have a policy on that. The ministry
needs to say: if you are a teacher,
you are expected to show a level
Bullying was another topic, Guy
said, with which teachers needed
to be more aware.
"There should be a zero toler-
ance for that, regardless of how it
Should a teacher turn a blind
eye to bullying, Guy said action
could be taken by the TSC.
Guy said she would like to see
principals be given more autonomy
to manage their schools.
She said while Education Min-
ister Dr Tim Gopeesingh seems to
be passionate about wanting the
education system to function effec-
tively, a lot needed to be done.
"If proper systems are not put
in place, then we would be doing
as the philosopher says: doing the
same thing over and over and
expecting the same results."
Part of the fault is ours
Gopeesingh said he knows that
the TSC had complained that the
ministry had sent to them "over
600 cases of teachers [guilty] of
gross absenteeism and on punc-
He explained that principals who
were trained in industrial relations
practices were not writing up
Gopeesingh said the ministry
also discovered that school super-
visors were not visiting schools on
a regular basis to communicate
with principals on school matters.
"This is where the breakdown
of the discipline starts," Gopeesingh
According to the minister, there
are also irregular meetings among
principals, deans and heads of
"That is another area of weak-
ness with principals and staff in
terms of reporting issues that deal
with absenteeism and unpunctu-
Gopeesingh said every month
the ministry ought to be given a
report from schools.
"There has been some tardiness
on the part of the school super-
visors in bringing these reports to
the chief education officer and the
PS. There have been weaknesses
in the whole management system
by some of the heads in the
schools. We have been working
assiduously with them to tighten
it and working with the commis-
sion, who have already said they
want to investigate it. But the min-
istry has not been presenting the
facts to them in an appropriate
manner to take the appropriate
action. So part of the fault is ours
What is misconduct?
Misconduct falls under the
categories: absent without
leave, bribery, bankruptcy,
failure to perform duties, unfit
for duty due to drunkenness,
involved in activities outside
of the service and negligence.
St James Secondary School students became models as they took to the runway, showcasing their
fashionable outfits, during an Afternoon of Tea & Fashion Soiree held at City Hall, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
PHOTO: MARYANN AUGUSTE
Dr Tim Gopeesingh
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