Minister of Education Dr Tim Gopeesingh has said the ministry supports the decision by the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) that Gita Gajadharsingh-Nanga, principal of the Tunapuna Hindu School, should resume her duties pending the completion of the investigation into her allegations of racism at the institution. The minister made the point yesterday during his first official response on the matter at a press conference held at the ministry's head office in St Clair. According to Dr Gopeesingh, the TSC last week made a preliminary ruling on the matter, which has been publicised and conveys that while investigations are ongoing the principal should be allowed to resume her duties at the school.
"Given the legalities that have arisen in this issue, I have sought a legal opinion/clarification from an attorney-at-law, on the matter, with specific regard to the interpretation of the authority vested in both the denominational Boards of T&T and the Ministry of Education in the legally binding Concordat in such matters," Dr Gopeesingh said. He reiterated that because the matter was initially referred to the TSC for investigation, the Ministry of Education must act according to the rulings of the Commission until it completes its investigations into the matter and delivers a final judgment. "The Commission's ruling that the principal should be allowed to resume her duties until otherwise directed is binding and will be supported by the Ministry of Education," Gopee­singh said.
The Ministry was not sleeping
Addressing mounting criticisms by the public that the Ministry of Education was not doing "anything" about the controversial issue, Dr Gopeesingh cited a chronology of events which show the Ministry of Education was not being initially informed of the issue. He said as a result of this, the ministry was observing proper protocol, the Education Act and the ministry's regulations by withholding all comments during the investigations launched by the TSC. "Both parties, the Maha Sabha Board and the principal, complained to the TSC, which is an independent institution of the State, and thus, the Commission was mandated and legally empowered to conduct an investigation into the matter," explained Gopeesingh.
He added that it would have been illegal and unlawful for him to make any comment which may have affected the investigation. "I was executing my duties in a proper manner and for that I make no apologies. "As the Minister of Education, I have a duty to ensure that no investigation into any matter in the education sector, including this one, is tainted by any comments from me or any other Ministry of Education officials that would lend to the perception of bias in any form or fashion," he asserted. He also dismissed a report by the Express newspaper which indicated he had broken his silence before yesterday's press conference.
He said the report was untrue and referred to an article written by Express reporter, Ria Taitt, published on November 11, 2011. The article indicated that Dr Gopeesingh reiterated that the Ministry of Education had not abdicated its responsibility on the matter, but had been communicating with the TSC on the issue. He revealed that a meeting with the Maha Sabha Education Board of Management, the principal and the TSC is expected to be held today, for meditation and peaceful dispute resolution to the matter.