(T&TGuardian)The Ministry of Education says most students within the system attended school for the opening of the new academic year yesterday. Also, Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said “99% of the 830 public ECCE, Primary and Secondary Schools across Trinidad and Tobago,” were ready for their student population.
In a statement last evening, after her ministry made an assessment of the opening day’s activity, Dr Gadsby-Dolly said only 0.4 per cent of schools with repair works being conducted on them did not open, while 0.6% of schools opened on rotation due to extensive repair works being completed. She said in all cases except one, repair works are carded to be completed during the course of this week.
According to the minister, the first day of the new school year also saw a 97 per cent teacher and 83 per cent student turn-out at primary schools, and a 94 per cent teacher and 82 per cent student turnout at secondary schools.
Also assessing activity on the opening day, Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) president Martin Lum Kin said two schools in South Trinidad had to be dismissed early due to a lack of water as a result of the difficulties being experienced by the Water and Sewage Authority (WASA).
Lum Kin added that the Melville Memorial Girls’ AC Primary School, which shares a compound with the St Margaret’s Boys’ AC Primary School in Belmont, was also dismissed early because they also had no water.
On Sunday, WASA announced that it would be collaborating with Education Ministry to supply schools affected by the water woes in central and south Trinidad due to the shutdown of the Desalination Company of T&T (Desalcott) over the weekend.
In a press release issued yesterday evening, WASA said Desalcott was back up to 85 per cent production and described the joint effort between the ministry and WASA as successful.
For many, yesterday was their first day of school or the first time away from their family in approximately two months following the July/August vacation.
There were also no reports of the heat affecting school staff or students at schools yesterday. However, Lum Kin called on his members to use their discretion. He also reminded them that they should reject any attempts at online engagement. He said TTUTA will not support this as the policy has not been finalised and the hybrid learning system was too ad hoc.
From as early as 7 am, parents and guardians gathered outside schools to see their children off for the first day of the new school year. There were the tears, selfies and excitement among this group.
On the other side, students were excited to see friends again, greeting them with huigs and kisses, and also to start another chapter in their academic lives.
One mother outside St Catherine’s Girls’ Anglican School said her daughter, who is in Second Year couldn’t, wait for school to reopen.
“They are excited, but she keep saying she’s late, she’s late,” she said.
“I can’t wait for Second Year,” the daughter added.
However, the mother admitted that the morning was hectic, especially since they had to leave home early to avoid the traffic.
In a message posted on Facebook to all stakeholders ahead of the new school year, Gadsby-Dolly said she understood the commitment needed by all.
Dr Gadsby Dolly said, “I know as parents it’s difficult sometimes as we support our children in their educational pursuits, but I’m here to encourage you keep on keeping on, keep on supporting them, it will all be worth it, our efforts will not be in vain, they need our support more than they know. And we know that as parents, we want the best for them, so keep on supporting them in their educational journey this academic year.”
The Minister also said the year will hold challenges but also told students they are strong enough to get through anything that comes their way.
“I want to encourage you to work hard to get the education you deserve, education, truly this is the key to your life’s success. Your parents, your teachers and all of us a MoE are here to support you in your journey to success. Work hard, focus, be disciplined, and you get yourself that education, your country is depending on you to do this,” she said.
However, Venezuelan migrant children will have to wait a bit longer to receive their chance, as the Minister said until the law is adjusted by the Immigration Division and the Attorney General’s Office migrant children cannot enter our schools legally.
Gadsby-Dolly said the first cohort of migrant students to be integrated, and the receiving schools, have already been identified, and once the legal arrangements are finalised, they will be registered.