In a statement, Gopeesingh, a former education minister, repeated his call for Rowley to fire Garcia, saying that until Rowley does so then he must also be blamed for the education sector’s woes, including 40 government schools being in disrepair causing a disruption to the teaching of thousands of pupils.
“Garcia is grossly incompetent, lacking in leadership and organisational skills, essential work ethic and basic capacity to head that vital portfolio,” alleged Gopeesingh, saying Rowley has been told of this repeatedly.
Gopeesingh said dilapidation in 40 schools is a direct result of the “cavalier and haughty approach” of Garcia, whom he alleged is out of depth in this Ministry.
Gopeesingh said in the past academic term, the shoddy state of schools had disrupted the studies of thousands of pupils, some of whose parents held emotional public protests.
“That followed the solemn earlier pledge of Mr Garcia that all schools were in a proper state for use by students and teachers at the start of the September term,” related Gopeesingh.
“It is increasingly apparent that education is not a priority matter for the Rowley regime, which has refused to issue $34 million for necessary school repairs.
“Further, Mr Garcia clearly carries little influence and credibility among his Cabinet colleagues to convince them to assign that sum for urgent repairs to the nation’s schools.” Gopeesingh also accused Garcia of non- cons t ruc t ion of schools and Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) centres, shutdown of homework centres, scrapping the laptop programme and ending the Continuous Assessment Programme for Standard Five.
“At the end of the People’s Partnership Administration, 42 ECCE centres, 29 primary and seven secondary schools were at various levels of construction, some close to 95 percent completed,” Gopeesingh said.
“After 15 months, all the schools under construction have been left in ruin and decay without further attempts at completion, a serious and shameful indictment of the Rowley-led administration.” He accused the Government of shutting 400 homework centres.
“In addition, Mr Garcia is presiding over sharp cutbacks in the Schools Feeding Programme, late payment of stipends to national scholars and scrapping of the textbook allocation.” Gopeesingh alleged major reversals in achievement levels in mathematics and English at both SE A and CSE C levels, in the past year, unlike the historic high success rates met in the previous five years.
“In 15 months of the Rowley administration, the education sector has suffered major rollbacks in the sustained achievements over the previous five years, which were all targeted at making Trinidad and Tobago a knowledge- based, modern and competitive society,” said Gopeesingh.
“I again appeal to the Prime Minister to remove the inept and bungling Mr Garcia and to appoint an Education Minister with the requisite competence and vision for this most important sector. This is the best Christmas gift he can give to the students of today and leaders of tomorrow