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School blank on Ash Wednesday a dangerous trend—TTUTA
The annual poor student turnout on Ash Wednesday has triggered a call by the T&T Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) for a national education campaign to arrest “this dangerous trend.”
Its first vice president Davinand Sinanan made the suggestion yesterday in response to the 28 per cent reported attendance of children in schools on Ash Wednesday. In a press release, the Education Ministry expressed disappointment and condemned the low student attendance.
It said “despite pleas to parents and students, via circulars, memos and advertisements, in too many instances the turnout of both teachers and students was unacceptably poor.” The release said Education Minister Tim Gopeesingh was dissatisfied with the turnout, although there was a three per cent improvement from last year.
The release quoted the minister as saying: “This is still simply neither good enough nor tolerable.” Gopeesingh commended the 70 percent of teachers who turned out and was dismayed at those teachers who did not.
However, Sinanan disputed the ministry’s statistics, saying that TTUTA’s calculations revealed an 85 percent teacher attendance. He said the problem was not the teachers but the students’ attendance.
Noting the low student attendance on Ash Wednesday started 12 years ago, Sinanan added: “It is growing progressively worse. It is part of a very negative culture that has taken over the country, a culture that we should all denounce in very strong terms.”
Worried about the “cooldown culture” after Carnival, he said: “We do not seem to know the difference between work and play.” Sinanan said the population needed to be educated on the negative consequences of such a culture.
He added: “This whole mentality is sending a very dangerous message to young people in terms of productivity and seriousness in terms of work. “We are telling the young people we should not bother and party ad infinitum.”
Surprised that more leaders and prominent people had not joined in condemning the attitude, Sinanan said the ministry and teachers could not solve the problem alone. He proposed a national campaign, enlisting support of key people in the Carnival arena.
“They have to join with us and tell parents after Carnival Tuesday is over, Ash Wednesday is back to serious work,” he added.
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