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Letter to the Editor: GATE must be fair to all genders and age groups

Retired Agricultural officer and mature GATE student, Yolanda Morean, shares her concerns on the new GATE changes with Wired868:

GATE must be fair to all genders and age groups. Many middle aged and elderly persons have lived lives of sacrifice taking care of others instead of themselves. It is my—albeit unsubstantiated—belief that females are the majority who sacrifice their young years when need arises, but a significant number of males also forego personal development to take care of others.

Such persons should not be denied GATE if they need it. Instead, some sort of insurance stipulation might be arranged the way it is done for bank loans.

Photo: Education Minister Anthony Garcia.
Photo: Education Minister Anthony Garcia.

Perhaps the average 50+ persons do not need GATE because they would be winding down a successful career and have provided for their upcoming retirement. However, others may be less fortunate.

Some have denied themselves educational advancement to take care of disabled charges; while others may have lost everything due to some misfortune. An elderly person who is now in a disadvantaged situation should be applauded if he/she wants to raise his/her quality of life by pursuing an education.

There are 50+, 60+ and 70+ individuals who are fully productive, and enjoy an enhanced quality of life as a result of education, whether or not it was GATE-funded.

One 50+ individual, Mrs Patricia Joseph, who recently completed a GATE-funded Bachelor’s degree in music continues her regular employment in the music department of the Nazarene College in Santa Cruz and has also had more lucrative offers elsewhere as a result of the completion of her degree.

The degree has not yet resulted in salary increase—largely because the institution is more-or-less a not-for-profit one. However, attaining the degree has expanded her worth and job satisfaction as a result of being upgraded from just a piano instructor, to a qualified music instructor who now lectures in music theory and can teach a range of music subjects when the opportunity arises.

Photo: Piano keys.
Photo: Piano keys.

At 60+, one senior librarian—not GATE-funded—continues to perform satisfying senior librarian duties at a middle management level on contract as a benefit of academic qualifications in the field of library studies.

Mr Nervin Saunders, over 70 years-old, performs a great voluntary service at the Eastern School of Pan Music in Arouca, which he himself founded to provide steel pan and basic music theory instruction to students of all ages.

It is unfair to tell an elderly person who needs GATE that it is unavailable on the single criterion of age.

GATE should be open to persons of all ages who need it. It should be a loan with insurance to cover recovery from at risk groups.

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241 comments

  1. Corporate Welfare is a serious problem in T&T. They have us focused on the crumbs (Gate) from the National Pie (55 Billion Budget) whilst a select few eating the pie.

  2. And that is your choice. Most parents would do that. But doesn’t change the fact that the thinking behind this is flawed. And there are more than a few people over 50 who are contributing more to communities than people half their ages and more.
    But none of that is really the point. The point is it is prehistoric to be making anti-discriminatory rules in an era when we are actually giving rights to so many disenfranchised groups.

  3. Well boy…if somebody give me $100k and tell me I can choose to educate myself or educate my child it’s a no brainer who I’d pick…….

  4. The thinking of the government here is obviously flawed. So why not just ask the Ministers of Education and Finance to get together and create a plan to works financially and doesn’t discriminate against citizens?
    But, no, that might suggest they erred in the first place. And apparently they are infallible. So best to stick with their mistake. Right?

  5. I don’t care about GATE as much as I care about discrimination. If it must either be a discriminatory programme or nothing. Then nothing.

  6. The amount of people that see GATE as a right enshrined in d constitution eh!!!

  7. Yes screw securing the future for young! Eat ah food and then complain that the young don’t understand sacrifice

  8. If yuh so upset vote UNC and see if they will allow the gate back for 50 year olds.

    • the thread for retarded politico zombies to vomit their shit is elsewhere

    • yes Lasana, no cursing either 😉

    • Joann Charles. GATE has to be a policy that aims to develop human resource competence in order to create profitable linkages with the economy. This is an investment that has to bring rewards to the economy. I don’t see why the government has to be financing the missed dreams of over 50 people who are close to retirement. Look at the population pyramid and see the preponderance of the 16-25 year olds and you’ll see the serious constraints under which the government is operating. If there are a few cases of over 50 people who can develop much needed technical skills with a verifiable economic benefit to the economy those people can benefit from GATE.
      Why has the debate focused on age discrimination? Over 50s would have settled in and have had their jobs and stable families. Why should government be financing people’s failed dreams without any serious benefit to the development needs of the economy? As usual Trinis want a freeness. I hope the government doesn’t back down just to please a few people.

    • Mr. B I so fed up of Trini’s. A man cussing because he eh getting to finish his Masters. I did not get gate but made the sacrifices to get my Masters and my family made the sacrifices for me to get my 1st decree. They talking age discrimination when all kinda real discrimination happened with UNC and their croonies.

    • Joann Charles There was discrimination across the board with that Piss Poor government. It was Friends, Family and Financiers, all of a certain ethnic make up. Why wasn’t there a protest about discrimination then? They hired under qualified hacks with bogus qualifications bought online. Remember the PP hack who had the big Airports Authority job at over $60,000 a month and all sorts of perks? He was made to resign but did he repay the government? What about the competent Central Bank governor who was bypassed so they could appoint a pot hound?

    • Ethics is for a PNM government everybody else is a free for all

  9. things like this make me wonder if anyone else is seeing the substandard quality and competence of this attorney general.
    or if, like every other colonial enterprise, there is no integration and consultation among these people who are said to be running the country. this policy should have never seen the light of day. we should have never heard they were trying to discriminate against citizens based on age. but then again, the colonial society is one that discriminates on all levels, at varying times, in various ways, from the glaring to the subverted.

    we are blind and daft to so many things in this place, and cant seem to look out and ration logic from higher ideals and to take lessons and insights from different places.

    thanks for sharing the eoc’s late statement.

    now that they are amending one aspect of their act, i wonder if they will take the time to poll such acts from around the globe and see if they want to make all changes now, or wait for another situation to be on the back foot

  10. “Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.”
    Pearl Buck, My Several Worlds: A Personal Record (1954)

    Hubert Humphrey “the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”

  11. While we are at it, call for the end of the concordat that deny some students who make the marks for prestige schools to be replaced by others. Don’t just stop at Gate. Eliminate it at Primary schools too!! Gate gives these students an opportunity to right those wrongs!!

    • I agree however once the church gets out of the education business they can close down their schools and turn their space into more profitable ventures. Therefore they use the money for a few schools and privatize them like in the states so you pay to send your child. They hirer their own teachers and let government deal with the rest

    • The primary school had GATE for a long time. It is called ‘free education for all’. The fact that education at the primary and secondary levels is no longer valued might be a precursor of what is to come with GATE at tertiary level.

    • Marcus Alexander Clarke Let’s be fair. The churches came to Trinidad, saw a need, purchased land, built schools and began education for Trinidadians that was NEVER offered prior to their entry into education. To be honest, if I were the RC Archbishop or the Anglican Bishop at that time – I would NEVER have handed over these schools. They were privately owned and therefore charged a small term fee to run their schools – and these are STILL counted as our ‘prestige’ schools. And for this you begrudge them the 10% student intake?

    • If the focal point and issue we have with gate is that it is free then remove it. My opinion. Go back to 1970 if we think that is the issue and purpose of Gate. I don’t think that is my issue.

    • Annette Dopwell you don’t get. I have never begrudge them. I am stating a point for all who say end the concordat. If the church gets out as people have been saying is because they will also take their buildings. Which would mean serious displacement within the education system. It’s only then persons would understand the reason for faith base schools

    • I attended a prestige government school that has no 10% intake. It was bad there. It is even worse in those other schools. I had a conversation with a classmate of my brother two weeks ago who told me it was always so. He said it was more blatant in form six where you saw the whose who in society whose parents are Ambassadors, politicians, etc. Imagine what takes place in those church schools away from enquiring minds? Who is being denied an opportunity? The middle class always takes the hit in this system. If the middle class don’t grow we are heading nowhere as a country. This policy will set us back by shrinking the middle class.

    • Thanks Marcus, Then ALL our children will suffer, for already the wealthy have migrated to International School, British Academy and Maple Leaf Canadian schools and they have been ‘stealing’ all the best teachers who go for higher salaries.

    • But the competition for places will never go away. Every girl in the East wants to go SAGS. That’s thousands trying to get into a school of hundreds. These days, not even 90% will get you in and that won’t change.

    • Those schools as far as I am aware doesn’t do CXC and caters mainly for the children of their citizens. The reason for the upper class parents to migrate there is obvious to me. Show me your friends and I can tell you who you are.

    • Lester Logie That’s not altogether true. I know that ‘some’ may send their children to those schools for ‘snobbery’ reasons, but I happen to know quite a few who send their children to those schools as they prepare them for SAT or Cambridge, from which, if they perform well, they gain scholarships to Universities in the USA, Canada and UK. It all depends on the parents ensuring that their children understand that they have to ‘STUDY’.

    • Hence the reason for Gate Kendall Tull. It offers an opportunity further down the education pipeline for students to be on equal footing. We must be clear on what we want from Gate by making the report public for us to examine the data . We are all talking from a lack of information and possibly skewed information to pigeon hole our thoughts on Gate.

    • Kendall Tull The competition for places in the denominational schools has always been so. That is why very early, I spoke to the Minister of Education and said that children should be zoned – it would cut out the traffic on the roads, children will have more ‘home’ time. Think of it – with those denominational schools all within Port of Spain – Belmont would’ve become ‘upscale’ and St. Anthony’s and Diego Martin Secondary would be ‘prestige’ as the children would be more evenly distributed.

    • My opinion is that it is not be about snobbery. It is about maintaining the status quo. Attending a foreign university or those schools here ensures that their children can build international networks for their use in the future. Our view of foreign schools as better will always allow those graduates to return and maintain their groups influence on our society.

    • Annette Dopwell that zoning hasn’t been working since I know of cases whereby children from Central are being sent to schools in the east west corridor. Further to that how many girls schools are there in central. Zoning hasn’t worked anywhere since people have been know to bus their children to schools of the better quality.

    • Marcus Alexander Clarke I happen to know that in New York children are ‘zoned’. So that parents actually move to the areas with better schools for the sake of their children. Children from Brooklyn aren’t admitted to schools in Long Island or Manhattan – they must go to school in Brooklyn.

    • Annette Dopwell Problem is too many schools in the POS region and in very close proximity to one another. Under zoning some of them, or all of them may need to be relocated to help with island-wide distribution of schools.

    • Annette Dopwell That is when the schools are maintained by the catchment area so people will want to live in the area where ‘good’ schools are available. I see that on HGTV all the time as one of the prerequisites for choosing a home – the quality of the schools.

    • Judy-ann Stewart You just answered your first comment. Imagine for one minute if schools were indeed zoned. In New York, in EVERY development, there must be land allocated for a school – hence, Haleland Park would’ve had a school, Lange Park, Trincity and EVERY development – so that would’ve taken care of those children. Result? Children in Chaguanas and Sangre Grande would NOT be getting up at 5.00 a.m. so as to leave for school in Port of Spain – and return home at 5.30 p.m., so there is no time for play. AND – with the schools in Port of Spain already there – Belmont, Woodbrook and East Port of Spain would’ve seen migration and those areas would’ve been pretty much more upscale than it is at present.

    • Annette Dopwell I understand what you are saying but is there room in the POS area, especially given the commercialisation of areas like Woodbrook, for migration to these areas? That’s why I suggested that there might be some relocation. Also you realise that something like this will take time and serious reorganisation of our local government which will have to deal with the schools in each area, perhaps even having to build them where they do not currently exist..

    • Annette Dopwell …zoning can mean that certain prestige schools now will go down…as u usd d ex of POS…d standard will drop…on other hand…what if in a zone there isnt already a prestige school and a child is sent to a comprehensive school…a bright child is now lost to a substandard school…zoning can only happen if there are massive and propr investment in each zone…and that is not about passing a law on paper…lots has to be done first b4 u can go that way…the schools in d zone must be brought up to stand first…

  12. Stephen John Nicole Ulerie Judy-ann Stewart Antoinette Sankar there is a very simple solution to this that I honestly can’t believe none of you nor the government can arrive at

  13. you can vote at 105…maybe you should also be allowed to enroll to do a degree at that age as well

  14. At 50 you can still vote, but the govt gets to exclude you from benefits ? …smh … T&T in general is an ageist society, it’s no wonder some of these comments…many companies restrict their employment ads to a certain age group for no good reason. “Democracy…Equality of opportunity for all…in education!” https://youtu.be/uPMTtiZEyTs?t=24s

  15. I like the insurance stipulation idea…certainly could help the situation and pacify the ones who seem to think the elderly are not worth the investment…