Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 14th 2014 Contents A5
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Government has spent approximately $245
million between 2010 and 2013 to provide
textbooks for students at primary, secondary
and special-education schools, Education
Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh said yesterday.
Replying to an Opposition question in the
Senate, Gopeesingh said prior to the actual
expenditure, Cabinet had approved $247 million
to buy textbooks between 2010 and 2013.
He also said Government provided a total
of 2,249,987 textbooks for students over the
2010 to 2013 period.
Giving figures for the various periods,
Gopeesingh said the purchase of textbooks for
primary and secondary schools totalled $17.8
million in 2010.
In 2011 it rose to $35.6 million with the
inclusion of texts for special-education insti-
In 2012, he said another increase was due
to requests from principals and teachers for
unused books to be replaced with books that
were in keeping with school subjects. The total
cost for textbook purchase in 2012 was $84.8
million and the 2013 total cost was $70.2 mil-
Gopeesingh said so far for 2010, estimated
costs for textbooks were $28.2 million (primary
books), $10.3 million (secondary) and $2.8 mil-
lion (special education).
He said the total for the 2010-2013 span
included a ten per cent "top-up" estimate
catering for books which were damaged,
destroyed or pilfered.
Gopeesingh said for each subject in primary
schools, one textbook is given to each student.
For the eight subjects in secondary schools,
one textbook is provided to each student also.
For forms four and five, where there were
34 subjects, textbooks are provided according
to what students study. At CAPE level, one
textbook per subject is also provided. Special-
needs students are allocated materials as well
Gopeesingh said Government tried to ensure
students got the books and if for some reason
they didn t, it was brought to the ministry s
attention and remedied.
He said he wasn t sure Government was
purchasing for the 76 private schools, but had
given them materials for exam purposes and
was working with 18 private secondary schools
"We re trying to ensure no student is left
behind and will take all measures to ensure
among T&T s quarter-million students, no
one gets an advantage over others or no one
is disadvantaged," he said.
Gopeesingh said over the 2010 to 2013 period,
approximately 17,600 candidates wrote the
Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) annually.
He said an average of 2.3 per cent of the
students who wrote the SEA were 13 and under
after March 31 of the particular year, and whose
average composite scores were 30 per cent and
less, were allowed to repeat Standard Five and
Gopeesingh added, "We have noticed from
2010 to 2013, we had about 123 primary schools
underachieving and we moved, 100 of them
have moved to achieving now, and among
those that were achieving, 100 are now
excelling. We ve had an improvement in the
language arts (ten per cent) and creative writing
(12 per cent)," he said.
"We also witnessed a dramatic lessening of
students getting less than 30 per cent, from
14 to six per cent now, and an increase in
those getting more than 50 per cent." (GA)
The Education Ministry is
starting talks with textbook pub-
lishers on having textbooks pro-
vided in electronic form, says
Education Minister Dr Tim
Replying to an Opposition ques-
tion in the Senate yesterday,
Gopeesingh said the Prime Minister
had instructed that the ministry
should work towards ensuring this,
so that students burden of having
to carry heavy textbooks at an early
age will "be a thing of the past."
Gopeesingh said the mandate
was delivered at Cabinet.
He added, "I ve already started
talks with the 24 (local) publishers
we have and ten others interna-
"So far it seems to be relatively
rewarding, but further discussions
are taking place and further infor-
mation will be given to T&T as far
as that is concerned."
Asked by the T&T Guardian
after the Senate how the e-text-
book proposal will work,
Gopeesingh said, "Discussions with
publishers focus on if they can pro-
vide the textbooks electronically,
in e-form and as many as possi-
"It s not a matter of shifting the
publishing from them, we re simply
exploring the e-textbook format
and full consultation will be done."
On queries in the Senate from
PNM senator Camille Robinson-
Regis on the late delivery of text-
books, Gopeesingh said when Gov-
ernment entered office there were
weak systems and absence of
methods to determine which text-
books to use, and Government had
to establish systems. He said some
textbooks had to be imported and
where some were being brought
to T&T by boat before, they are
now being brought in by air.
He said there were some delays
by publishers in trying to print
texts locally, but by 2012 the min-
istry had four established printers
in T&T printing texts rather than
the printing being done in India
and China as previously.
Gopeesingh admitted there were
certain times it wasn t completed
for one reason or another, but the
ministry aimed to ensure all stu-
dents got texts in the best possible
On queries from Independent
Senators Dr Kriyaan Singh and Ian
Roach---both of whom use wheel-
chairs---about provisions for spe-
cial-needs students, Gopeesingh
said the PM had also instructed
that his ministry should assess
special-needs equipment and
material for schools.
Since T&T s special-needs stu-
dents comprised 30 per cent of
the student population, he said
attention is being placed on people
with vision, hearing, cerebral palsy
and disability issues. This includes
getting textbooks in Braille. All
libraries have Braille machines too.
He added that ramps and facilities
to aid disabled students were being
factored into the construction of
Finance Minister Larry Howai
yesterday made it clear that the
Corporation Sole s vote against
the re-election of two First Cit-
izens Bank (FCB) directors and
lack of support for the re-elec-
tion of two others, including
chair Nyree Alfonso, was not
due to the fact that they had
done any wrong.
He made the comment yes-
terday as speculation swirled over
whether Alfonso and other direc-
tors Rishi Baddaloo, Shobee
Jacelon and Marlene Juman, the
permanent secretary in the Min-
istry of the Attorney General, had
been told not to seek re-appoint-
ment at Monday s AGM for their
role in overseeing the now con-
troversial IPO share sale.
Speaking to the media at the
Energy Chamber s Corporate
Governance Toolkit Launch at
the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port-
of-Spain, yesterday, Howai
assured this was not so.
"We did say that this was not
intended to impute any wrong
doing on the part of anyone,"
"The Corporation Sole felt that
there was a need to make changes
in light of some of the concerns
being expressed and we simply
proceeded on that basis.
"We are now in the process of
looking at some possibilities in
terms of appointments for the
board. We know we must make
appointments that will engender
confidence in the institution and
allow the institution to build into
During Monday s AGM at the
National Academy for the Per-
forming, Vishnu Dhanpaul, the
permanent secretary in the Min-
istry of Finance, acting as the
representative for the Corporation
Sole, said it did not support the
re-election of either Alfonso or
Baddaloo and voted against the
re-appointment of Juman and
Yesterday there was public
debate over whether the manner
in which the Corporate Sole went
about the process was profes-
sional, noting the public embar-
rassment to the board members
would not engender any more
public confidence in the bank s
Yesterday, however, Howai
called the officers of the Ministry
of Finance "professional."
"They do their evaluation and
make their decision and you get
your approvals and move for-
ward," he said.
On the way forward for First
Citizens, Howai said they were
speaking to "a few individuals"
at this stage to identify replace-
ments for the board.
Howai also admitted that
although the FCB IPO was a suc-
cess, it was eventually "tainted".
"It has been very successful
and it continues to meet a strong
and well capitalised institution
and very profitable," Howai said.
"The IPO was a success but it
became affected and perhaps
tainted by some of the activities
that seem to have taken place.
We are still waiting on the results
of the Securities Exchange Com-
mission (SEC) Review and inves-
tigation which is ongoing now
and when it comes out then it
will be determined how one pro-
The SEC is currently investi-
gating the sale of 659,588 shares
to then First Citizens executive
Philip Rahaman at a cost of $14.5
Future IPOs have since been
put on hold in the wake of the
First Citizens IPO so that
processes can be reviewed.
Howai clears air on FCB shake-up
Board did no wrong
Gopeesingh eyes e-textbooks
A schoolgirl walks along Independence Square, Port-of-Spain after
school yesterday. PHOTO:CLYDE LEWIS
$245m spent on
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