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Super Fast Garcia strikes again; Live Wire schools Education Minister

No sex education for over-sexed students? Playing dress up with teachers? Half-hour lunch breaks for primary school children?

Education Minister Anthony Garcia is on a roll. The bad news is, as always, he is heading downhill.

Super Fast Garcia was at it again yesterday when, while pointing to a shift towards self-sufficiency by UWI, he announced that the university’s new chancellor will be businessman Robert Bermudez—a full seven days before the University Council meets to decide on its choice for the role.

Photo: Education Minister Anthony Garcia. (Courtesy News.Gov.TT)
Photo: Education Minister Anthony Garcia.
(Courtesy News.Gov.TT)

UWI expressed “surprise” at Garcia’s statement and insisted that: Chancellors are appointed in accordance with the University’s Statute 4, which clearly states, ‘The chancellor shall be appointed by the University Council’.

So Garcia praised UWI’s autonomy while violating it? Maybe there should be tertiary education courses in irony for ministers.

Which is to say nothing of a chronic deficit in analysis if Garcia’s meeting with National Primary Schools Principals Association (NPSPA) president Cogland Griffith is any guide.

On Tuesday, Griffith proposed that primary school children—aged primarily between 5 and 12—should have their lunch break reduced to 30 minutes so as to “reduce the incidence of indiscipline and violence in the schools.”

This from a man who, according to the PTA, reduced the rate of school bullying by allegedly instructing school officials to make fewer reports.

How would Griffith react to the murders of Shannon Banfield or Abiela Adams? Ban shopping? Outlaw dating?

The Trinidad Express reporter asked whether the children ought to have time to learn social skills by interacting with classmates.

“Would you prefer that their hands are broken if that is the socialising?” retorted Griffith—as though those were the only two options.

But what about teachers who sometimes help distribute school lunches before they sit down to eat?

“It’s not [like they’re having] a three-course meal,” said Griffith.

Photo: The evolution of education...
Photo: The evolution of education…

It is the sort of thoughtful analysis, concern for one’s fellow man and desire to solve others’ problems that ought to see Griffith fast-tracked for a Cabinet role.

Garcia, who said Griffith’s proposal had merit, was clearly love-struck.

“We live in a society where students come to school on a morning, having just witnessed their father beating their mother,” said Garcia. “We live in a society where students sometimes have to step across bodies lying in the streets that was (sic) subject of some violent act that resulted in death of those persons…”

And the answer to that conundrum, apparently, is to get the traumatised children off the school compound and back to the murderous streets and abusive homes as quickly as possible—so they don’t mess up the school’s statistics, you see.

Neither gentleman, apparently, considered the possibility that having an age gap between classmates that could be as wide as four years—with 13- and 13-year-olds of the same or opposite sex forced to co-exist—could lead to a whole range of issues that were uncommon two decades ago, as students at different stages of puberty and maturity try to assert themselves on each other.

The Ministry of Education’s website says its goal is “to educate and develop children who are […] well-adjusted socially and culturally and emotionally mature and happy.”

To hear Garcia and Griffith tell it, schools are just a temporary parking spot for monsters; and the less they have to do with the little brats, the better.

Can United Airlines expand their passenger removal system to cover local public servants? Mr Live Wire would like to make a booking.

Photo: Minister Garcia and Mister Griffith? I'm afraid this flight can no longer accommodate you. Can you follow me, please...
Photo: Minister Garcia and Mister Griffith? I’m afraid this flight can no longer accommodate you.
Can you follow me, please…

About Mr. Live Wire

Mr. Live Wire
Mr. Live Wire is an avid news reader who translates media reports for persons who can handle the truth. And satire. Unlike Jack Nicholson, he rarely yells.

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100 comments

  1. These people have no shame, whatsoever

  2. “During urgent questions in the House of Representatives later on, Garcia defended his actions. Asked by former tertiary education minister Fazal Karim whether his premature announcement was a contravention of Statute 4 of UWI, and whether it also prejudiced and polluted the process, Garcia replied: “I totally disagree. My statement was by no means premature.”

    He said the Search Committee had identified a choice and he was directed by Cabinet to make the announcement.

    Asked by Tewarie whether his action signalled an intention by the Government to interfere in UWI, Garcia said: “The simple answer is no.”

  3. I don’t know Mr. Bermudez’s academic credentials. What does he bring to the table in that respect?

  4. Just keep digging:
    “… But in a statement yesterday, the Ministry said at a recent Cabinet meeting, Garcia “was instructed to inform the population that the search for The UWI Chancellor was completed and that Robert Bermudez would be the next Chancellor”.

    The Ministry said the statement was to “clear the air” and explain the process used to select the next Chancellor.

    It said the University Council established a Search Committee on September 7 last year to begin the process to appoint a new Chancellor to replace Sir George Alleyne who will vacate office on July 31.

    It stated that the Committee was chaired by Vice Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles and included representatives of the governments of several Caribbean countries, including Trinidad and Tobago.

    “The Committee was of the view that there needed to be a paradigm shift away from a Chancellor whose background was strictly in academics. It was felt that since the Caribbean economies are on the decline, the University needed a Chancellor who in addition to academia also possesses business acumen.

    “Following this procedure, the Chairman reported to the Committee at its meeting on April 7, 2017 that all Heads of Governments were in agreement with the recommendation to select the nominee of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, Mr Robert Bermudez to be the next Chancellor of The University of the West Indies,” the release stated…”

  5. so cabinet prepares a speech and you parrot it without reading and understanding what you say, then you spend the next ten days defending what you said is that how we working

  6. I just reading the comments here

  7. Geez….Neanderthal strikes again….UWI better scrap the process now and start over because it has been compromised by Dinosaur Dan …

  8. Very true Deborah. It is an insult to the UWI Council. Now we know how worthless there meeting is. They might as well have that meeting in Ruby Tuesdays. 🙂

  9. In retrospect Garcia’s gaffe alerts us all to the reality of polictical interference in this appointment, down the road The UWI would have made the annoincement and while we may have been surprised, we would have been non the wiser…he is the superwhy in our lives

  10. Sigh yes. Like they really provide training for that. Cause they seem to do it so well.
    Are there no protocol officers anymore?
    To my mind, I believe there used To be a period of training/orientation for new members?

  11. Nah. They have to learn to confuse effectively. Key to being a successful Minister.

  12. Clearly communications training needs to be done for ministers, PMs, journalists…Keep it simple, and say what you mean, mean what you say. It truly cannot be that difficult.

  13. Allyuh doh worry, pencil and slate coming back to your nearest primary school just now.

  14. All he needs ( to make another meal of his feet) is some ketchup, pepper and a cold glass of mauby!

  15. Some principals should not be entrusted with even schools of fish.

  16. The Minister of Education and most people at the higher levels of the TT education system are operating in a 1960s reality…..they have absolutely no understanding of the modern world or current realities and so are deeply and woefully ill-equipped to handle these problems…..their response is oppressive and authoritarian, lacking any basis in research, data analysis and without any coherent strategy …. seriously, that guy’s name is Cogland?

  17. hahaha super fast Garcia… like that one…

  18. I tend to disagree with alot opnions on Garcia. Garcia has had to appease too many stakeholders NPTA , TTUTA, Principals, Religious Groups ( The ones behind no sex ed policy), thus what is the result? Years ago in a radio interview they asked Sat Maraj about national service for all students in a rage he stated that ” his people had thier kids under control and that wasn’t thier problem” thats how all stakeholders think the other persons problem is not thier own.

    • Earl Best

      Sorry, Joel, the evidence does not bear you out. Garcia was the first man named to the Cabinet – long before the PNM won the election. Know whom that announcement was meant to win over? It was the Catholic voters who knew that one of their own was going to be in charge of Education (CAPITAL C!).
      And within his first two weeks on the job, the Minister declared that “There will be no sex education taught in our schools.” Pressure? Emphatically, yes! External pressure? No, sirree, think again!

    • Remember that Aesop’s fable about the boy, the old man and the donkey? You should send it to the Education Minister then.

    • But then who should he listen to?

    • He is the Education Minister. Who he ought to listen to should be obvious. What is the point of the the Education Ministry?

    • If he doesn’t know then God help the children. Lol.

    • Idea of who to listen is not first the problem its the need to create a single identity. We are a divided people who only unitied for desire for ” sweet lime and bam bam”. If your not sure note we are still debating if its ok for 12 year girl to marry a 40 year old man. Tell me Lasana Liburd who is the right group?

    • If the aim is not to benefit the children then he going bad. It is really simple.
      All he has to do is consider, how does this benefit students and aid their development…
      Life is simple. People complicate it.

    • I have been teacher over 12 years trust me its never that simple. Do you why Sweden, Holland, S. Korea have such strong Education systems? They don’t have multiple ethnic and religious groups battling to be heard. Again one mind one voice

    • excuse the poor sentence structure

    • But Joel having multiple religious and ethnic groups makes our country “interesting”. I don’t think that is the crux of the failing of the education ministry. If you keep focus on your core mandate and remember that your purpose is to educate children then it simplifies decision making. It’s like when the TTOC president mentions “supporting the athletes and so on”…its like the athlete is no longer the central purpose of the existence of the Olympic committee. The athlete is mentioned almost “in passing “. It’s the same way Garcia and Griffith dismissed any objection related to the children’s well being as though it’s about principals and the work they have in managing children so they want them to go home faster.

    • Sorry this is ambigious approach that over shadows the mounting issues that keep us spinning top in mud its issue me must face to survive this round of the game .Secondly he has not recommended reduce lunchtime so kids can go home but to increase teaching time which is a stupid idea.

    • It was not to increase teaching time Joel. They specifically said that children will go home earlier.
      I fully agree with Rose-Marie. When you know the purpose of your business, it is easy. When you get distracted, delivery suffers.
      Same for every business. And for public servants too.
      A police officer and everyone else can say the same thing. “It’s complicated.” But it’s complicated because they make it complicated. And that’s why they are struggling to do a decent job. At best!

    • Trust me its to increase teaching time this has been attempt by Principals ( the ones who suggested it) again increase our contact with students . They have been trying for years to do this.

    • But Joel they said exactly the opposite on the record. I can’t just ignore that.

    • The principal wants to take away half hour of lunchtime from children and teachers so that teachers could work an extra half hour teaching???? This must be the twilight zone?

    • This is exactly how information is distorted in this place. We always believe there is an ulterior motive behind what is purposely stated on the record. It’s even difficult to start from analysis what is stated as we as post colonial always disbelieve what authority figures state verbatim. It’s what makes conversations all the more complicated, but communication ineffective and perhaps makes our society more “interesting” as stated above.

  19. I have to say that Garcia came to the cabinet with what looked on paper like excellent credentials. A former TTUTA president and a former principal of a successful and prestigious school. He of all people should have a wide perspective on all matters educational…student…teacher…principal…union. I’m sure he’s also a parent. How in the world did he end up so clueless. ?

  20. Hilarious but oh so sad…

  21. “Super fass Garcia” hahaha

  22. We want UWI to turn a financial profit or do we want the returns of well educated and honest citizens.

  23. So you mean to tell me, in 18 months, these ministers still do not have a grasp on what is going on in their ministries? Moreover, the cabinet don’t see fit to discuss at least once a month-we have Skype, whatsapp etc, what is going on and the way forward?

  24. Lasana do you remember when Rowley announced Garcia as his choice for Education Minister, do you remember how surprised Garcia was?
    That’s because he thought Rowley knew he was a quenk!

  25. oh man! this ought to be good…let me read lol