Education Minister must acknowledge that Universal Education is NOT a present reality
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On Universal Children’s Day 2017, the Ministry of Education posted a message celebrating our children. The message specifically highlighted the ministry’s intent “to continue to adhere to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child” and applauded Trinidad and Tobago as “one of the few countries in the world that offers Universal Early Childhood Care and Education, Primary and Secondary Education to all children”
This is far from the truth. There are presently no publicly funded Government schools that are fully equipped to cater for special needs children. Parents must then explore one of the following options:
- Attempt to integrate their child into the regular school system, which is ill-trained and ill-equipped to support them: physically, developmentally or emotionally. If their child requires an aide, the present shortage of aides from MOE, means that parents must source and fund aides on their own.
- If finances permit, parents can choose private schooling which ranges from $5000 - $67000 per term.
- Some parents have no choice but to keep their children at home. If they are capable, they may homeschool. But often the goal is solely about survival.
These options are all explored by parents and caregivers. There is little support from MOE and any assistance requires months, if not years, of waiting. It is erroneous and irresponsible to the general public to applaud yourself for something which does not exist.
It is clear that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago is not fulfilling its obligations to ensure compliance to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
We call on the Honorable Minister of Education, Mr. Anthony Garcia to acknowledge that the Universal Children’s Day 2017 message was misleading and instead recognize that there are huge gaps in where the present system is and where it needs to be.
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