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Open letter to the Minister of Education


Tue, Jul 17. 2012

Editor: It is almost two years since the nation witnessed the emergence of a new set of faces at the helm of the Ministry of Education (MOE). Educators, parents and students have been waiting with bated breath to see what changes will flow from the MOE into the wider education system.{{more}} Every time the Chief Education Officer (CEO) has an opportunity to address teachers, her speeches are mainly about the need for educators to exhibit professional behaviour and set good examples for students to emulate. Oftentimes she insists that a high and constant level of integrity, good work ethic, professionalism, mutual understanding and respect are expected from teachers. Her speeches smack of hypocrisy, considering that, in my view, she is the chief of unprofessionalism.

At this point, I am distraught and wish to ask the following questions: Are the CEO and her staff a law unto themselves? Is there anyone who can rein in this juggernaut that is an albatross around the neck of our education system and in particular our teachers? Why is it that the CEO and the staff at this “organization” operate more as a mafia than as a group of professionals charged with managing an essential service? What example is the CEO setting for the nation’s children? To whom do these “professionals” answer to when they are discourteous, insensitive, sloppy, and carefree? Most importantly, who or what is going to control this runaway train that is the MOE?

It pains me when I hear teachers speak about the inefficiency and callous behaviour of the CEO and her staff. It seems that the MOE is an equal distributor of unprofessionalism and ineptitude. To add insult to injury, stakeholders related to education have been arguing that nothing new has materialized since the current CEO took over the reins of education. To me, no deep thought-provoking discussions have been encouraged or allowed to take place. Teachers work very hard on a daily basis to ensure that they are fulfilling the curriculum requirements provided by MOE, yet their issues are dealt with at a lower order or “petty” level. No wonder teachers are frustrated, demotivated, and demoralized.

Madame Minister, the euphoria of the present chief’s appointment has died down; it is time that the CEO is reminded that she has a Herculean task of sorting out things in her ministry. A revolution is only as good as the generals in charge. I really would like to see the MOE driven by think-tanks that will be responsible for implementing essential initiatives that the education system should take. You have your work cut out in trying to restore pride, competency, and glory to our beleaguered MOE. You have to determine whether the Ministry of Education is in catalyst or paralysis mode. It is imperative that you develop the CEO and staff’s capacity, expertise, discipline, and stamina to prepare for the way ahead.

Madame Minister, I implore you, please educate your CEO! The Government of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) recently approved money to train its Ministers and heads of departments in etiquette and manners. Madame Minister, please ask the Prime Minister to request a scholarship from the T&T government for the CEO to attend the session! Upon her return, kindly shut down the MOE for one week, so that she can have similar sessions with her staff. I pray for the day when this institution will live up to its name, instead of being thought of as the MISERY OF EDUCATION (MOE)!

A Professional