Gopeesingh: GATE proposals reflect Government's undoing of gains made in education sector

Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - 00:00

Former Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh says any cutback in GATE will add, in his view, to the dismantling of gains made in the education sector under the previous regime.

Dr Gopeesingh is the latest to add his voice to the recommendations made by the GATE committee.

"The decision to punish ambitious tertiary students by the arbitrary whittling down of the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (GATE) is another onerous and atrocious education measure of the PNM regime.

The planned summary cutback on the progressive and successful GATE follows the abandonment of several proven, performance-driven and visionary initiatives.

The PNM government has refused to grant computer laptops to secondary school students, has scrapped the Continuous Assessment Component (CAC), declined to deliver textbooks, shutdown homework centres and cancelled construction of schools and Early Childhood and Care Centres (ECCE).

In less than a year, the PNM government and its regressive Education Minister Anthony Garcia has dismantled much of the gains in the education sector and has taken Trinidad and Tobago back by about 20 years.

The ruling regime has undone essential modern and creative programmes and policies designed to make Trinidad and Tobago a learning society and one of human development, change and transformation.

The PNM government has reversed such historic and remarkable advances as the launch of the entire secondary school family into the digital age through distribution of more than 95,000 laptops.

A total of 95 schools, ECCE, primary and secondary were constructed, making classrooms within closer reach.

In addition, students were assured of their textbooks each year, while After-School Study Centres were established to provide critical support to students who require individual attention.

The expansion and effective management of GATE led to the tertiary education rate increasing from 42 per cent to 65 per cent and to marked decrease in the yawning skills gap.

Any systemic challenges could have been appropriately dealt with through suitable measures, instead of cruelly punishing forward-thinking and progressive tertiary students.

The cumulative effect of these retrograde steps has been to undo the calculated progress of the Trinidad and Tobago society in meeting the challenges of the contemporary innovation-driven world.

The Prime Minister must seriously consider appointing a competent Minister of Education, one with an appreciation of the dynamics, advancement and urgent essentials of the modern education sector.

Under Minister Garcia, the critical education field would continue to regress, to the detriment of our country as a whole and especially our valued leaders of tomorrow."