Carnival week off
By LAUREL V WILLIAMS Thursday, March 6 2014
THE Ministry of Education is exploring the feasibility of giving students and teachers an entire Carnival week off with the time being made up by deducting a week from the official vacation period.
“There must be discussions at national level on the issue on whether we take one week from the annual vacation period and give them the holiday period during the Carnival week because this week seems to be a non functional week,” Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh said yesterday.
He provided Newsday with statistics saying that at the primary school level, there was an improvement of student Ash Wednesday turnout from 32 percent last year to 37, this year. He added that primary school teachers’ turn out was 69 percent last year and 73 percent this year. There was a 16 percent increase of secondary school teachers from 56 percent last year to 72 this year. Gopeesingh congratulated teachers for reporting to duty yesterday. He however explained that the secondary school turnout of students decreased from 26 to 18 percent.
“This is unacceptable. I call on parents to take their responsibilities seriously. While teachers are willing to come out and teach, students are not present. Where is the parental responsibility,” he asked.
He reiterated that there must be formal consultation on the matter with education stakeholders to assist in making a determination on a Carnival week holiday. The educational district, he said, with the least turnout of primary students was Port-of-Spain which had a turnout yesterday of less than ten percent.
North Eastern had less than 22 percent while St George East both had 52 percent and Victoria had 32 percent turnout. Referring to the low turn out of students at schools nationwide yesterday, president of the TT Unified Teachers’ Association ( TTUTA) Devanand Sinanan noted that “the after Carnival cool down mentality” has been so pervasive over the past 15 years, that parents prefer to keep their children home from school every Ash Wednesday. President of the National Primary Schools’ Principals Association (NPSPA) Abzal Abdool agreed with Sinanan’s observations. “The low student turnout this year is consistent with that of previous years.