Tabaquite MP claims bad roads led to schools closed

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Tabaquite MP Anita Haynes –

Tabaquite MP Anita Haynes, the opposition’s education spokesman, said two schools in her constituency were unable to open on Tuesday after the Christmas/New Year vacation owing to the dilapidated state of local roads.

She also claimed some parents in rural areas affected by bad roads were paying $140 daily to transport their child to school.

Haynes said pupils could not get to school at Caratal RC and Brasso-Venado Government Primary Schools, both in Central Trinidad, because local roads had become impassable.

“The infrastructure is impacting education because people are physically unable to get there (to school.)”

She said she had got an undertaking that works were due to start towards reopening the Brasso-Venado school within the week. Haynes was awaiting word on the Caratal school, from the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government. She had also approached the Secondary Roads Improvement Company Ltd.

“These are primary schools so they (pupils) are preparing for SEA. We had the impact of covid on standard three and four classes. Now they are back out to physical school they shouldn’t have something like road infrastructure keeping them from being able to put their best foot forward in March.”

She said the damage to the roads leading to both schools was extensive.

Haynes has filed a parliamentary question to find out from the Ministry of Education which schools have remained unopened owing to disrepair.

Citing reports from UNC colleagues, she said she had heard of pupils not attending Carapichaima West Secondary School on Tuesday.

Haynes said that in her three years as an MP she had seen the demand for hampers and food cards had grown exponentially.

“We’ve gone through the period of lockdowns and what not. That post-covid phase plus inflation – increasing food prices, increasing fuel prices, transportation costs. We’ve really seen the impact on families, so much so that within the week after Christmas there were still a number of persons reaching out to us for us to assist in getting children back out to school,”

With higher transportation costs, she said the Ministry of Education has promised PTSC buses for pupils to use free of charge.

“But the issue for children in rural areas is there are certain areas the buses are unable to service because of the infrastructure.

“Those parents are now required to spend upwards of $70 per student in each direction. So that’s $140 per day for each child for transportation costs, because you are taking a taxi to come out to the main road, from the main road to a certain transit point and then from that transit point to your school.

“That really can create a state where parents are unable to afford to physically just get their child to school. This doesn’t take into account the cost of books and uniforms etcetera.”

She recalled a problem with drivers in the school transport system getting paid on time. While welcoming the fact of payments being approved in the last budget, she warned that everybody knew of the typical disparity between funds being approved and being disbursed.

Otherwise she criticised certain recent posts about accomplishments on the Ministry of Education’s Facebook page.

“What was very instructive was the Vacation Revision Programme was listed as an accomplishment but the ministry’s failure over the last few years to put things in place to mitigate against declining results from our students, including the provision of laptops when this same administration scrapped a laptop programme that gave laptops to every student.”

She urged, “I think if we really want to do better in the education sector we really have to take stock of what has been done and what we are in the process of undoing.

“A lot of these problems are because they are scrapping programmes set up between 2010 and 2015 which were proven to work, and that is what we are seeing now.”