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posted 25 Feb 2013, 15:28 by Gerry Kangalee


Ministry of Education Ignores Requests for Basic School Supplies

The National Primary Schools Principals Association (NAPSPA) is forced to bring to the attention of the national community the distressing situation that has been existing, and continues to exist, in all primary schools in Trinidad for some time now. Schools have not received any school supplies from the Ministry of Education since September 2011.
Prior to this receipt, school supplies were received in 2009. It must be pointed out that primary schools do not receive any funding/vote as secondary schools do, but rather depend solely on the Ministry of Education for the provision of these supplies in order to continue its operations.

When the NAPSPA met with the Rt. Honourable Minister of Education, Dr. Tim Gopeesingh on Wednesday 18th December 2012 at his office, this situation was raised as a matter of urgency. The Director of Finance and Accounts of the Ministry of Education informed the meeting that schools did not receive supplies for fiscal 2011/ 2012, due to a shortage of staff. NAPSPA was told to expect supplies by the end of January 2013.

NAPSPA wrote to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Ms Kathleen Thomas, on Friday 1st February 2013 informing her of the dire need for critical supplies. NAPSPA gave an undertaking to wait until Friday 22nd February 2013.

NAPSPA considers this lack of a prompt response by the Ministry of Education for emergency supplies as callous, inhumane, insensitive and contemptuous of the needs of the primary schools.

Schools are functioning without the availability of essential, basic supplies. These include, but are not limited to, toilet paper, cleaning materials, garbage bags and stationery, including whiteboard markers, which are all vitally necessary for the operation of schools. Principals and teachers have been reduced to virtual “vendor status” in an effort to meet the needs of those in their care. Many schools are surviving by and large as a result of the support and grace of the corporate community whilst the Ministry of Education shirks its responsibility and abandons the nation’s children. Why this abuse?

The need to acquire funds to purchase school supplies has resulted in the loss of valuable teaching time and the effective implementation of the curriculum being compromised as teachers are forced to leave the classrooms to prepare for and conduct sales. Additionally, Principals cannot perform their core functions adequately, as outlined by Section 27 of the Education Act, as they are too busy trying to obtain school supplies to keep their schools afloat.

It must be pointed out that in some schools diseases such as ringworm, hand, foot and mouth disease and red eye are prevalent, a situation which can only be exacerbated by the present situation/crisis, brought on by the inaction of the Ministry of Education.

While the Ministry of Education has promised that mechanisms are being worked out for direct funding to be given to primary schools, this does not absolve them of their responsibility of providing the basic items needed in the interim. The notion of direct funding has been in the air for years and there is no guarantee that this will become a reality anytime soon. In any event, urgent relief is needed NOW. Is this a case of “while the grass is growing, the horse needs to starve?”

NAPSPA is calling on the National Parent Teachers’ Association (NPTA) to publicly state their position on this issue. In many schools, parents are being unfairly burdened as they are being asked to contribute school supplies or money to help alleviate this problem. NAPSPA refuses to believe that the NPTA can be happy and silent in a situation where our children are made vulnerable to various dangers.

NAPSPA is calling on the Ministry of Education to immediately provide these much needed basic supplies to schools by the week ending March 1st, 2013.

NAPSPA will be hosting a meeting of all primary schools principals on Thursday 28th February 2013, at Thick Village Community Centre, Siparia, to decide whether schools will be deemed fit for re-opening after the Easter Vacation.

Let us NOT compromise the safety, health and education of our primary school cohort. NAPSPA demands action by the Ministry of Education NOW!

Lynsley A. Doodhai