TTUTA: Tim must apologise
Monday, February 25 2013
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Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh....
Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh has called on the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) to investigate the “unprovoked, unnecessary and violent act perpetrated against him” by TTUTA second vice-president Orville Carrington at the Cunupia Secondary School last week.
In an interview yesterday, TTUTA General Secretary Peter Wilson said the executive has received a report on what happened from Carrington, an Industrial Relations Officer who was at the school at the time.
Instead, Wilson said it was the minister who should apologise to the teachers for using the Public Address system of the school for his tirade of insults and talk of disciplining teachers. Wilson said Gopeesingh spoke of teachers being fired as well as details of teachers attendance on the PA system. He said Carrington was at the school to hold a meeting with teachers and heard the minister.
Wilson reported that Carrington approached Gopeesingh on the way he dealt with the matter of absenteeism using the PA system and “carrying on in that fashion.” The minister walked away to continue the tour.
Wilson said, “there was no physical contactor, violence. Mr Carringon berated the minister loudly.”
He said the minister’s comments were heard not only by teachers and students, but by also residents living in close proximity to the school.
Wilson said the minister failed to take into account the reasons for absenteeism at the Cunupia school.
“Teachers have been absent due to threats to their physical safety from a couple of students, some with involvement in criminal activity. There was an attack on a security officer, two to three weeks ago and as a result of that police were called in and the student was charged. Some students even carry weapons.”
Wilson criticised the attitude being displayed by the Education Minister and for his ministry not dealing with the issues affecting teachers. He said while the ministry has “a role to play,” any disciplinary action to be taken against teachers is the purview of the Teaching Service Commission.
During a tour of the Cunupia Secondary School on Friday, Gopeesingh used the institution’s public address system to chastise teachers over their level of absenteeism and lateness, a move which elicited the ire of Carrington.
Carrington had shouted at Gopeesingh and seemed ready to confront him over the stern and audible reprimand — a scene which was played out in full view of teachers and students. Gopeesingh, however, simply walked away.
Gopeesingh later told reporters at the school that there were some dysfunctional teachers in the system and insisted the matter will be reported to the Teaching Service Commission (TSC).
But, in a statement Saturday, the minister regarded Carrington’s behaviour as unpardonable.
“The fact that TTUTA’s Second Vice- President, Orville Carrington thought to behave like this in full view of impressionable students, teachers, senior Cabinet ministers, other Government officials and members of the public is unpardonable and must be condemned in the strongest way,” he said.
“Suffice it to say, based on numerous complaints by parents, the intervention of the education minister was sought in rectifying what parents have called gross dereliction of duty by a number of teachers at the Cunupia Secondary School.”
Gopeesingh, in the release, also referred to statements made by the TSC during Friday’s Joint Select Committee (JSC) of Parliament, in which its chairman Hyacinth Guy revealed that the commission had numerous reports of teachers being late in excess of 1,000 minutes as well as teachers going well beyond their stipulated number of sick, casual and vacation days.
The minister supported the stance taken by the TSC and warned teachers that the ministry would be working with the TSC to ensure that students were not robbed of valuable learning/classroom time.
Gopeesingh said in the release that further details about the level of absenteeism, will be made available at a news conference tomorrow.