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Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly Minister of Education

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Students left behind by the abrupt closure of the T&T Hospitality and Tourism Institute (TTHTI) are transferring to the Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute to complete their programmes, Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said yesterday.

Gadsby-Dolly told Guardian Media yesterday that the THTI had indicated its willingness to accept the students in an online/blended learning arrangement. “Some, in fact, are in the process of transferring,” Gadsby-Dolly said.The TTHTI is also discussing the transfer of students with the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus. The Ministry of Education is setting a meeting with TTHTI to finalise these arrangements. Gadsby-Dolly said the meeting should take place this week or next week at the latest.On August 21, the TTHTI board of directors issued a release saying mounting debt and the prolonged closure of the school caused by COVID-19 had led to its voluntary wind up. The board said before it decided to close the institute, it sent several letters requesting urgent meetings between the TTHTI; its parent body, the Trinidad Hotels Restaurants and Tourism Association and the ministry, adding dispatched its most recent letters on July 9 and 21. The TTHTI also sought explanations on the withholding of over $13,171,000 in subvention payments which were approved in national budgets for the fiscal years 2017, 2018 and 2019 by the Parliament.The ministry responded, saying the TTHTI did not inform the Accreditation Council (ACTT) of its decision to close, nor did it complete its registration process. In a media release, the ministry said the TTHTI board is obliged to communicate any substantial change to its operations, including permanent closure, to the ACTT. The ministry expressed concern that the TTHTI did not submit the required “Teach-Out” arrangement details that are usually made with a similar institution to ensure that registered students can transfer their records, transcripts and documents to ensure continuity.

The Congress of the People meanwhile said it was confused that neither former minister Anthony Garcia nor Gadsby-Dolly were providing clear information on why there was no formal agreement with the TTHTI. In a media release yesterday, the COP said, “From information gleaned from two newspaper reports, we are further informed that the former CEO has a court matter with reference to the said institute and was then appointed as a valuator to the said institute. If this is not a potential conflict of interest then we ask what is? We once again call for all other parties to have an honest and meaningful dialogue so as to protect the students, industry, government, the board of governors and individuals personal characters. “We also believe that what is needed now is the expansion of our economy as we look for creative ways out of our economic crisis. By now we must understand that our oil and gas streams will not take care of us indefinitely.”