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TTUTA President Antonia Tekah- De Freitas, centre, speaks with teachers after a recent meeting.

This morning’s meeting between the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) to discuss several critical issues affecting teachers and students, ended prematurely after TTUTA rejected a proposal by the ministry for a one-week extension of the school term.

In an interview with Guardian Media, TTUTA President Antonia Tekah-De Freitas said the proposition meant teachers would have to be in schools for an additional week as one way to recoup lost classroom time.

Tekah-De Freitas said it was wrong and unfair to penalize teachers over an issue which has not been created through any fault of theirs.

Indicating TTUTA supported the State’s decision to close all schools until April 20 in the interest of national health, Tekah-De Freitas said, “When the minister began speaking about the postponement of SEA into the new term, possibly into May, that was acceptable to TTUTA.”

She said SEA has been administered during May in years gone by and so, this proposition was also welcomed.

However, it was when Education Minister Anthony Garcia brought up the issue of extending the term, that the meeting took a turn for the worse.

Tekah-De Freitas said, “It did not have anything to do with the students per se, but because the teachers were out.”

“So with teachers being out essentially for five weeks, it appears as if the ministry was not prepared that they should be out for five weeks and they were trying to take back the time they sent us out for.”

The fired-up TTUTA president said, “We did not put ourselves on this leave, we didn’t shut down schools. It appears the ministry was trying to take back that time and therefore, a proposition was put to TTUTA for the term to be extended for one week during which time the teachers would come out. It was not clear whether or not students would be coming out for the week as well.”

Tekah-De Freitas said it was not known when that week would have been as the meeting ended shortly after TTUTA rejected the proposal.

Meanwhile, TTUTA is calling for a postponement of the April 2 SEA exam, and for the deadline dates for the marks to be submitted as it relates to CSEC exams.