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Pan in Classroom in danger charges Diaz
President of Pan Trinbago Keith Diaz is calling on Education Minister Tim Gopeesingh for an urgent meeting to discuss the future of the Pan in the Classroom programme. Speaking at Pan Trinbago headquarters, Park Street, Port-of-Spain yesterday, Diaz expressed concern that Gopeesingh had not responded to the organisation’s calls for a meeting and said he feard it may be the end of the road for Pan in the Classroom.
“We in Pan Trinbago would like to make a statement in coming together with the Pan in the Classroom unit. We heard the Minister of Education making statements and we would like to find out a few things,” he said. Diaz told the media he had tried to contact the Ministry of Education several times to discuss a number of issues as he was concerned that as early as the end of June the contracts of several tutors and tuners will not be renewed.
“We are seeking information from the honourable minister. We’ve heard in Parliament the minister make some statements about what the pan programme will be. We are not sure of that. We had a meeting with him in 2012—January to be exact—and since that we have not had any other meeting with him.
“We not seeking confrontation you know, we are seeking discussion with the Minister of Education,” Diaz said. The Pan Trinbago boss said some of the steelpans that were dedicated through the programme to some Hindu schools were turned down even though the children of those schools were willing to learn. Diaz said he believed some sort of instruction was given to Hindu schools not to accept steelpans.
Vice president of Pan Trinbago Bryan Serrette also expressed his concern, saying pan was now being pursued around the world because of its diversity as a musical instrument, but it appeared as though it was not wanted right here in the land of its invention.
“Our information is that the contracts of the teachers and the co-ordinators and so on is nearing an end. As a matter of fact we ourselves have made interventions with the minister in January to extend the contract of those teachers and co-ordinators. We understand that the contracts will no longer be extended after this term,” he said.
Serrette said Pan Trinbago had tried to avoid making the issue public as it had hoped for some sort of consultation but now had no choice. He said Pan Trinbago had no problem with the introduction of other musical instruments, but there must be a place for the national instrument.
Media Relations Co-ordinator of the Ministry of Education, Yolanda Morales-Carvalho, said rumours of the shutting down of Pan in the Classroom programme were totally false and the ministry was in fact looking at expanding it to include a variety of instruments.
She said both the education minister and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had repeatedly spoken about the expansion of the programme and not the disbanding of it. She said Gopeesingh was in meetings with various stakeholders and Pan Trinbago just needed to request the meeting if it was so urgently desired.
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