Gopeesingh: Threats of violence untenable

rma Maha Sabha (SDMS) and Principal of the Tunapuna Hindu School, Sita Gajadharsingh-Nanga.

The two have been at loggerheads since Port-of-Spain North/St Ann’s West MP Patricia Mc Intosh read a letter to the Parliament on November 9, in which the principal complained to the Teaching Service Com-

mission (TSC) that general secretary of the SDMS Satnarayan Maharaj had been instructing her to keep children of African descent out of the school.

Maharaj has since denied the accusations.

At a press conference at the ministry’s St Clair office yesterday, Gopeesingh said he expected all parties will recognise the urgent need to resolve this matter expeditiously in the best interest of the students.

“I urge a peaceful compromise among the SDMS Board, parents and principal of the Tunapuna Hindu School, while a final decision is reached in this matter,” he said. The minister will meet with the TSC, the SDMS and the principal today at 11 am at the ministry in St Clair

for mediation and peaceful dispute resolution in the


He pointed out that last week, the TSC made a preliminary ruling on the matter indicating that while investigations were ongoing into the allegations of both parties, the principal should be allowed to resume her duties at the school.

Gopeesingh said, given the legalities that have arisen in this issue, he has sought legal clarification.

“I have sought a legal opinion/clarification from an attorney-at-law, Senior Cou-

nsel, on the matter, with specific regard to the interpretation of the authority vested in both the denominational Boards of Trinidad and Tobago and the Ministry of Education in the legally binding Concordat in such matters,” he said.

Responding to reports of the alleged threat of “violence” if the principal were to return to school he said, “this is untenable and unacceptable and has no place especially in the nation’s schools and the wider society.

“This will not be tolerated in our schools.”

When asked if there were any plans to alter the Concordat he said if it became necessary it will

be discussed at the Cabinet level.

“We have met five times with the denominational boards since I’ve been minister.

“They have added some more recommendations for themselves for us to consider in the Concordat.

“So if it becomes necessary this will have to be discussed at the Cabinet level and a determination would have to be made in consultation with the national community,” he said.

Gopeesingh pointed out that he has followed the proper rules of the law and Ministry of Education regulations.

He said during the investigation launched by the TSC it would have been illegal and unlawful for the Minister to make any comment which would affect the investigation.

“As 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 official that would lend to the perception of bias in any form or fashion,” he said.


"Gopeesingh: Threats of violence untenable"

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