Responsible move by Minister, TTUTA
ALL’S well that ends well will hopefully apply to the latest row between Minister of Education Tim Gopeesingh and the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA), which was amicably resolved earlier this week.
The Minister had gotten into a war of words with TTUTA vice-president Orville Carrington at the Cunupia Secondary School last month and subsequently accused Mr Carrington of verbally abusing a female member of the Ministry’s staff. Dr Gopeesingh proceeded to ban the union official from entering the Ministry’s St Clair compound.
After a meeting between the Minister, TTUTA president Roustan Job, Mr Carrington and members of the union’s executive, it was announced that Dr Gopeesingh had retracted his accusation against the official, saying the Ministry worker had been verbally abused by a member of another stakeholder association.
In response, the TTUTA president said: “It was all cordial, there would be no further discussions on the matter. It is behind us.”
But if the education sector could be likened to a patient, Dr Gopeesingh’s bedside manner can be called into question.
Despite his bustling, take-charge and, no doubt, well-meaning approach, the Minister could well have been hurting more than helping. It’s not clear how picking fights with TTUTA and the teachers it represents can help matters in the sense of increasing goodwill and assuring necessary collaboration in the business of educating T&T’s schoolchildren.
Certainly misbehaviour by a TTUTA official should be exposed and denounced. But Dr Gopeesingh’s banning response unduly escalated a conflict. Again, the Minister’s teacher absenteeism and late-coming data, if these are significant, should be public information routinely available from reliable sources. The Minister’s dangling of a threat to reveal such “bad book” records is improper, unproductive and provocative.
But as demonstrated when the Minister subsequently sat down with TTUTA officials to discuss the issue involving Mr Carrington, there is nothing that a little dialogue cannot help, with supposedly rational and mature individuals coming to a common consensus and bringing to an end any discord between the respective parties.
The education of our nation’s youth is much too important to be sidetracked by any minor tiff between the Ministry and the teachers’ representative, especially in these desperate times when wayward youth are prime targets for criminal gangs seeking recruits.
We trust this latest issue has been laid to rest and Minister Gopeesingh, working in tandem with TTUTA, will seek to inspire the country’s teachers to strive for the common good—the all-round upliftment of every single pupil in Trinidad and Tobago.