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Teachers stay away over late Ministry payments

Published: 
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Education Minister Anthony Garcia a press conference at the Ministry of Education on St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. Photo by:ANISTO ALVES

Education Minister Anthony Garcia says teachers at the Bishop’s Centenary College and some 12 other private schools will be paid their stipend within the next 48 hours for accommodating ministry-assigned students.

His statement came after some 25 teachers at the Bishop’s Centenary, in Woodbrook, stayed away from owing to the non-payment of their November salary.

Only four teachers showed up for duty yesterday and students were sent home at half-day.

Last month, students complained that they were turned away because their parent had not paid an annual $500 maintenance fee.

At a press conference yesterday, Garcia said Bishop’s Centenary College and 12 other schools were not paid their stipends due to a cash flow issue.

He said schools have been complaining that they have not received their stipend since the school term began in September.

“A great majority of teachers did not show up for work today and took the decision to send home the government students,” he said.

Garcia said this problem does not rest alone with the Bishop’s Centenary but other private schools were experiencing the same problem.

“All the private secondary schools that provide assistance to the Government have been experiencing this problem. And the genesis of this problem is simply because this Government is experiencing some serious problem with respect to cash flow. The economy is not doing as well,” he said.

Garcia said 13 schools were involved and the quantum would depend on the number of students assigned to each school at a rate of $1,200 per student, per term.

“It is likely payment will be made tomorrow. It is not necessary to take that action again,” he said.

The Ministry was grappling with challenges to meet its financial commitments, he said.

In an interview yesterday, students at Bishop’s Centenary said they were told to return home because the teachers did not get pay for the month of November.

An educator at the school said they had to borrow money to pay the teachers in October and there was also no money to pay them in November.

“They (teachers) did not come out to work because they did not get a salary for November. Only four turned out to work because they were not paid for the month of November. We borrowed money to pay their salary in October,” she said.

The educator said the school is usually given money each at the start of each term.

“They (Government) usually give money by the September term but we had to borrow for October and we can’t do that again. They were not paid so they stayed away,” she said.

Marlon Seales, first vice president of the T&T Unified Teachers Association, said the association would be looking into the problem.

“This is the first time I am hearing about this and we do not have members in private secondary. Children not having school in any sector is a cause for the association,” he said.