Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) president Devanand Sinanan has urged principals and teachers to refrain from working under “conditions which are less than ideal” as eight schools remained closed yesterday at the start of the new term.
Sinanan also said he was not pleased with the “threatening tone of the circular (from the Ministry of Education) which said principals must ensure all schools are opened”.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Sinanan said: “We have eight schools that did not open—six in Trinidad and two in Tobago. We were getting conflicting reports so we want to go with what we knew about. We want to be absolutely sure.”
The two in Tobago are Pentecostal Light and Life Foundation School where staff toilets were not completed, and the other was Parlatuvier Anglican School where toilet facilities were non-functional and the school needed to be cleaned, said Sinanan.
Despite the opening of the majority of schools, Sinanan said teachers and principals have a responsibility to ensure their charges are safe and they are working in a safe environment.
“In many instances, principals and teachers are trying to work under conditions that are less than ideal. We got reports teachers are not altogether happy with what was done or not done during the vacation period. We are reminding principals, they have a responsibility to ensure the schools are up to a certain standard,” he said.
“The teaching and learning process is most effective under situations where there is no threat to the health and safety of teachers. Health and safety issues must take priority, and priority must be given to addressing those issues.”
Sinanan gave teachers the assurance TTUTA would represent and even head to the courts if necessary.
“We will not sit idly by and allow the authorities to take disciplinary action against principals and teachers who take that responsibility seriously. We applaud principals and teachers who ensure their schools are safe and classes are being conducted in an atmosphere that is devoid of any threats.
“We call upon the authorities and all other stakeholders, including parents, to work with the school authorities to ensure the plant is up to health and safety standards, as defined by the Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) Act.”