The Keith Rowley-led Peoples National Movement (PNM) administration stands out as the most partisan, most polarising and most divisive government that Trinidad and Tobago has ever had. This was confirmed last week when energy minister Franklyn Khan, in the Senate, apologized for what he referred to as “the challenges facing pupils of the Point Fortin East Secondary School.”
There was nothing wrong with the minister’s statement, except that it was perhaps one – if not the only such apology, coming from the Rowley’s government on the deteriorating physical conditions of many schools in the country. It was clear the statement came amid protests from the very strong Point Fortin PNM community, and Khan was no doubt attempting to reassure the many PNMites whose children attend this institution that their government will move with despatch to rectify the problems.
What about an apology to the many students, parents, and teachers of other schools, especially those in the opposition United National Congress (UNC) constituencies?
Classic example is Couva West Secondary that has been literally closed since September 2019.
Education minister Anthony Garcia has been arrogantly making excuses rather than giving reasons why this school remains closed. Garcia is on record as seeking to place the blame for the problems on the staff, students, and parents and without an iota of evidence, resorted to speaking about slipshod workmanship and/or sabotage and he has been found to be less than honest on many occasions.
The same was the situation at the Balmain Presbyterian School. The school had to be closed last year due to major issues with its sewerage system and again Garcia blamed sabotage for this problem. Ironically, this school is once again closed because of the same sewage problems.
What about the Ramai Trace Hindu School where students have been displaced for five years as the completion of their school hangs in limbo… just promises by this government with no signs of completion.
Where is the government’s “apology” to the students, parents, and teachers of the North Manzanilla government School which was deemed unfit for occupation? They have now been transferred to Nariva Manzanilla and this government seems to have forgotten about this.
The same can be said of the Sangre Chiquito Presbyterian which has been closed for more than 2½ years.
Reform Hindu, Edinburgh government primary, Poole RC, Fyzabad Anglican Secondary, Claxton Bay Anglican, and Princes Town Presbyterian can also be added to this list.
How many Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Centres, built by the former Peoples Party government remain closed today? These centres are supposed to offer a wide range of programmes aimed at the physical, cognitive and social development of children before they enter primary schools.
When a government can politize children’s education along partisan lines, then it tells you that this government is exhibiting spite and malice to the country’s most precious resources and is prepared, for the sake of political expediency, not to follow the concept of “No child left behind.”
Last year when seven fishermen from Orange Valley were murdered on the high seas, Junior attorney-general Fitzgerald Hinds publicly declared that since there was no member of parliament for Couva in government, there was no need for a government representative to visit the area. While Hinds’s statement was most callous and insensitive, he was at least honest about the PNM’s position with events that take place in Central Trinidad.
Compare that to the administration’s show of strength and support to the residents of Beetham where some 20 citizens were rendered homeless as a result of a fire that destroyed seven homes last month. Ministers Camille Robinson-Regis, Fitzgerald Hinds, MP Adrian Leonce, Councillor Adanna Griffith-Gordon, and senior public servants were also present.
While the government should be applauded for its response in this instance, why isn’t this proactive approach adopted by the government for all areas of the country?
What is astounding is that this government, whilst openly practicing partisan divisiveness in this very enlightened era, fails to appreciate that there are many of their supporters and their families who are also victims of this discrimination.
The Rowley-led administration, for the past 53 months, has been unable to govern and provide security to citizens. Its encouragement of open partisan affiliation now contaminates almost all State institutions.
Meanwhile, Rowley and the PNM remains the most polarizing and divisive figures in Trinidad and Tobago; they have never hidden their political prejudices and biases.