Weather for leather! Live Wire examines ODPM disaster, a UNC land grab and Fatima’s, eh, “drama classes”

There is nothing like a downpour to offer fresh perspective in life. As flood waters rose in central and south Trinidad, a woman discovered that a four foot reptile, in a cheeky bid for power, had swapped the swamp for her abode and surreptitiously laid claim to her premises.

But enough about Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s attempt to stave off an internal revolt at the United National Congress (UNC).

Photo: Don’t you wish your political leader was hot like me? Dotcha…
Then Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (left) strikes a pose with her Chief Whip, Dr Roodal Moonilal.

Petty narrow-minded politics cannot be Trinidad and Tobago’s biggest concern at the moment. Not when close to a quarter of the country has been swept off its feet by the inclement weather with just about as much grace as Harvey Weinstein woos young actresses.

Ahhh, Hollywood: a country inside a country where the legal penalty for rape is a six figure settlement and/or starring role in a blockbuster movie, accompanied by a non-disclosure agreement.

But where was I? Right, the flooding in parts of central and south Trinidad, which was catastrophic if you live there or have even the most basic level of human empathy. Or “small thing” if you happened to be the deputy CEO of the Office of Disaster Preparedness Management and wanted to know what a boot in your posterior felt like.

Farewell to “Colonel (Ret’d)” Dave Williams who, according to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, said enough during the recent crisis to suggest that he lacked the right aptitude for his post at the ODPM.

And this coming from the head of a Cabinet that is not adverse to shaming domestic abuse victims or chuckling at the working class’ failure to riot after a series of gas price hikes in an economic downturn.

Captain Neville Wint, a relief officer, will now function as the head man at the ODPM and he told TV6 that his first priority is to ensure “continuity.”

Photo: Retired Colonel Dave Williams has resigned as deputy CEO of the ODPM.
Small thing…
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

Well, that must be a relief to citizens who have to do the backstroke to throw out the garbage.

And speaking of “backstroke”, since when did “dry humping” become a subject at Fatima College?

Spare a thought for young local film director Michael Mooleedhar who worked for approximately two years to bring Michael Anthony’s famous novel “Green Days By the River” to life, only to be upstaged by a two second clip of “Zach and Mikey Make a Porno.”

Who would want to be a fly on the wall when those young men—supposedly form two students—decided how to make the best use of their free time.

Student A: “Fellahs, Fatima get on with that win over CIC, eh? Allyuh think we can win the Intercol?” Student B: “Screw the football team…”

Student A: “Hey, anybody watched South Park last night?” Student B: “You find Eric funny? That fat arse?”

Student A: “Should we go over our notes for geography?” Student B: “Schoolwork? Steups? Are you a backside?!”

Student A: “Well, what then…?” Student B: “I dunno… Wait, something just came to me…”

Photo: Actors and comedians Adam Sandler (right) and Kevin James in “I now pronounce you Chuck and Larry.”

It is in times of crisis that you really learn about someone. Enter Education Minister Anthony Garcia—a former Fatima principal—with a measured response to the viral video.

Sex education classes, you ask? Not even close.

Instead, Garcia ordered school principals to enforce a ban on all cameraphones on their premises. Because if you can’t see the problem, then clearly there isn’t one. Right?

If Garcia were National Security Minister, he would probably slash the crime rate before lunch on his first day at the job.

Garcia: “So you say there is a spike in reported crime? Why not just ban people from making reports?!”

Was “Colonel (Ret’d)” Williams—which, honestly, sounds like a title he scooped out from a box of cereal—really not visionary enough to keep his job among these geniuses?

And so today, as a result of a group of Fatima boys’ amateur audition for Bang Bros, students at El Dorado West Secondary—to give just one example—lined up for so long to be individually searched for cameraphones that some children did not get to their classrooms until after recess.

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

Meanwhile in Golden Grove, there are probably inmates clicking “Like” on this story from their smartphones while you read this.

Not that there was no upside to Garcia’s ban on cameraphones.

Siparia West Secondary principal Sookoo Sonnylal probably gave the minister a standing ovation. Sonnylal was recently filmed waving a piece of iron at a student after telling him that his father “make a mistake by making you” and offering helpful, life changing tips to other students such as: “keep your ass quiet”, “shut your ass” and “learn to read and write”—which, one might have thought, would actually be on the school’s curriculum.

Imagine a school child getting anyone to believe that exchange actually happened without video evidence. Sonnylal, after all, is the former president of the Secondary Schools Cricket League (SSCL).

But so much for student whistleblowers. They might as well go screw themselves. Literally.

And talking about screw-ups, Mr Live Wire would like to remind readers that there will be an election before the end of the year, as Tanty Kamla fights for the right to remain number one in the number two party.

Photo: A satirical take on UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s 2015 internal election victory.
(Copyright Far Side)

The Trinidad Guardian described her snap election call as an attempt to stave off “a palace coup.”

Palace coup? Are we talking about the political party that got evicted from Rienzi Complex for being deadbeat tenants?

More like someone trying to skip the line at Rattans.

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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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  1. Warning: Undefined variable $userid in /www/wired868_759/public/wp-content/plugins/user-photo/user-photo.php on line 114

    Can you imagine how long it would take for the Principal of a school with 2000 students to log in, secure and log out those mobile devices each day? Hahahah. Mr Minister on some of that Kool Aid.
    Kamla and co gave out 18,000 laptops a year for 5 years. Rowley and co are continuing it.
    EACH of those has a HD camera mounted onboard and has the school WiFi to livestream the shenanigans. (Don’t even talk about blocking. My sons hacked their laptops within the first week of Saints)
    Stopping phones? Dotish move. That’s like medieval Europe trying to stop the Reformation by jailing pamphleteers and confiscating printing presses. Didnt happen then it go happen now?
    These knee-jerk responses only highlight an abysmal lack of policy directive coming from the top down and bureaucrats who are divorced from the realities of life in 2017 talking up their asses. How old is Garcia? Does he have a FB? IG, Twitter? Or is he (as I strongly suspect) still living back in the early 80s when TTUTA was still relevant? I honestly think in his demented mind that he feel he still TTUTA president and never left that space.

  2. PS: “Minister Garcia, the media is reporting a rise in school violence, what should we do?”

    Min Garcia: Ban the media.

    PS: Minister Garcia, the Met Office is saying that there will be more rain and floods, what should we do?
    Garcia: Elementary my dear PS, just ban the Met Office. Tell them to shut-up, to quote my PM.

    PS: The septic tank is overflowing in one of our schools, what to do?
    Garcia: Tell the children not to use the toilets. Hold it up till you reach home or the nearest KFC.

    Garcia to Self: This work is so easy…now if only I were PM…

  3. The discussion is very interesting. The issue of students (primary & secondary) having access to their cell phone while in school or children having a cell phone to contact their parent after school have caused some grey areas. I believe they don’t need their phone while in school if it’s not being used as a learning aid. I refrain myself from commenting on the ills or benefits for cell phones because we can all argue either way.

    • “In 2007, Gates, the former CEO of Microsoft, implemented a cap on screen time when his daughter started developing an unhealthy attachment to a video game. He also didn’t let his kids get cell phones until they turned 14.”
      That is very far from “tech-free”. And it is sensible. Now potential health risks is something we should always consider in terms of exposure.
      Technology changes very quickly and it would be wrong to assume that the risks associated with a device in 2007 is the same as 2010 or 2014 or 2017. But one has to be vigilant.

    • I worked at Bmobile for a time. I watched parents who could barely navigate their meetoos come in to the store to buy Razrs, Pebbles and other high end camera phones for their children who wrote SEA. Because that’s what the children asked for. I frowned at that because those same parents weren’t monitoring use or even getting themselves up to speed on the technology. They said they don’t understand the phones, the children want them to play games. 2 yrs later, a proliferation of videos emerging of school fights, sexual activity, drug use etc. No, tech isn’t the problem. Patents not monitoring their children and talking to them and ensuring they understand things themselves is.

    • Yes. I’d agree. And I sympathise with parents because I know it is hard work. But that’s just the job. Just like I understand that teachers do have it hard. Absolutely. But we just have to try and create the best system possible for all involved, including the children.

    • The level of patience required to be an effective primary school teacher for instance… I take my hat off to them and definitely think the good ones deserve pay increases.
      They should be paid like doctors in my opinion, if we could afford it.

  4. Is the way the minister so sure no man touching took place
    N no camera phone suspend the students with camera phone
    He have or has some vested interest there?

  5. The Min of Education has to deal with a problem his generation didn’t have to endure. Instead of tackling the root cause of the problem, he tackles the device showing the problem. I wonder if his ban on cell phones would cover cameras on pens, covert cameras e.g. in mugs or smart-watches?

  6. Btw, the ministry has a BYOD (bring your own device initiative) in light of CXC’s impending move to online examinations and the halting of the state’s laptop program.
    For some students at any number of schools across the country, that device is/will be a smartphone.

  7. The information about cell phones are conflicting. I heard Mr Garcia say on i07.7 this morning that there is legislation regarding cell phones in school. He was pleading with PRINCIPALS to enforce the law. Now what I’m reading above. is alarming regarding confiscation of phones. From Mr Garcia statement this morning he said students are supposed to log their phones on entry in the morning and pick up on their way out of school. Students were not supposed to have the phone on their persons during school hours, That way no one can record anything. However, it was when a parent called that I was more convinced that nothing is wrong with children its their parents. This man was justifying why his child should have a phone on her persons, because he may want to contact her for any emergency. I mean how many of us had no cell phones and when we returned home we would hear news of what transpired during the day. Yes I know its a different era, but when will children be taught self discipline, when there are parents insisting otherwise which include disregarding the law. Parent s today act as though they have no sense. They give primary school kids cell phones costing not $400.00 but thousands of dollars. This is the generation of parents who spend little time with their off springs, believe teachers are baby sitters and just buy, buy buy, for them. I once heard a principal at a PTA meeting state “”Parents today reward failing kids with all the technological gadgets. The cell phone issue in Secondary schools is not news. Soon it will die down until the next incident

    • The same reason that teachers find it convenient to have smartphones on them, students and their parents will too. I say manage phones don’t ban them. And we should stop thinking of students as though they were inmates. Maybe we will get further if we all took to a more modern approach to education instead of just seeing students as the “end users” or “consumers” with no other real role.
      Laws are updated everyday btw.

    • Lasana Liburd Some reporters have been reading Paulo Freire and Jonathon Kozol? Studying education in a capitalist society? That’s good

    • manage the phones? you need to teach for a month in any secondary.

    • The same students who fight each other are the same ones who are players’ who are traded on the ‘football transfer market’, who are denied relevant education, whose schools suffer for lack of resource, who are bullied by authority figures…Talking about ‘cell phone management’ is like discussing ‘corporal punishment’..Non sequiturs..The system is broken..Start there..

    • Right on target. Why do you as a parent need to reach your child who is in school where they are supposed to be. Look here! We are falling all over our selves with accommodating our children beyond reason. There is an office in the school with phones, leave a message and if there is an emergency you then get the child. Simple really.

    • Nonsense. Sometimes students have problems accessing that “emergency phone”. Or teachers promise to call if school is closed early or whatever and don’t.
      Schools aren’t jails. Adults don’t respect children and wonder why that is reciprocated.

    • Lasana Liburd that statement is nonsense no offence

    • People seem not to recognise that children leave school to travel home, go to lessons, extra curricular activities etc and the phone ensures that they are reachable. My daughter has to text when she leaves one place and arrives at her destination so that if something goes awry, I know as soon as possible. And after school is over, reaching your child through the school line is impossible. Again, taking away phones so incidents aren’t filmed can never be a solution to any problem.

    • Joel my daughter is in standard one. The school has occasional water problems. Whether or not we got a phone call telling us to collect her early seemed to depend totally on the teacher and whoever at the staff room my daughter asked for help. At present, her teacher has a What’s App group so she communicates with parents but she is the first teacher we have had to do that.
      So as far as I am concerned that bit about students and parents being able to rely on an emergency phone is nonsense. No offence.

    • I continue to say, we in all this mess because of parents who will find ways to justify why their kids should have phones on them. Reality check you the parent might think the phone is for emergency, but your technology savvy kids, have ulterior use for the phones, Lets not kid ourselves, the MOE is not saying they cant have the phone they are saying its not to be on their person during the day.Look at all the videos posted on social media. Schools kids on the sidelines of the fights urging them on ( boys and boys, girls and girls , students and teachers fighting) and sex acts are taken with cell phones. The sidekicks are aiding and abetting to wrong doing, So when do we draw the line, with the cell phones with parents who insist that their kids take phones to school and then they the student feel its thier ‘right to have it all day, (In case mummy or daddy has to call.Yeah right.We create monsters and then hold our head an bawl after. This is reminiscent of the work place, I worked in the government system for 2 years and cell phones would ring loudly during the day and people talking for long period with total disregard for fellow workers, etc, While in private (banks etc, you cant use phone). Different rules between private and public and this is applicable to private and secondary schools. I bet the rules differ in the public schools and the private school. I also ask what is the role of Principals, and what is TTUTA roles in all this and what is the response of teachers int his imbroglio. Do they think its their job or not to monitor cell phones? ( I personally say we give kids electronic toys with no boundaries and when the horse has already bolted we want to pull it back, and blame every one else except we the parents.” As a country we doing the same things over and over and getting the same negative results. What we go do now is the cry? Parents need to be parents not their children’s friends. The lines seemed to be blurred and they are blinded by the era of consumerism with regards to their kids technology gadgets, No they wont be left behind, but you have to have boundaries.

    • Lasana Liburd How is that nonsense? It may not be in effect but that does not make it impossible. They must work to improve those systems.

    • Rossana Glasgow We fail to acknowledge the role of the school’s admin and TUTTA in all of this.

    • Rubbish Rossana. We are in this mess because some parents have abdicated their responsibilities as parents to impart a proper value system to their children. This applies rights across the board to all schools. It’s just that so called prestige schools and private institutions do a better job of suppressing the stories. If we are banning phones, what’s next? Ban the internet because some kids cyberbully or watch porn? Take away computers because they play too many games?

      And people are acting as though problems in schools with children’s behaviour didn’t exist before cell phones. That isn’t true at all. We are more aware of it now because of the technology but nothing happening here is new. There were no phones 30+ years ago when I saw the same behaviour in the so called Fatima prank being displayed in my school. It was 30 years ago I listened to accounts of children having sex in schools in the classrooms from friends and family who were teachers at the time.

  8. Meanwhile… it is illegal for teachers to confiscate camera phones as they are private property.
    A teacher in Tobago ended up in court for doing just that.
    So the minister is doing nothing more than barking…

  9. Well now we know why politicians and corruption go hand in hand… if nobody sees the wrongdoing, then it didn’t happen, did it?

  10. Like the arcticle but you need talk teachers lil bit about smartphones in the school trust me its not helping the situation.

    • All things can be used for positive and negative I guess. Didn’t think the Fatima issue was a cameraphone issue myself…

    • These phones have become a nightmare! Theft of phones by student causing nuff parent baccahanal and academic delinquency by students using phones in class. Then the videos create help a voyueristic nature by adults fueled by the excesses “shock and awe” videos many of them never moved to action but use the videos to support thier poor views of students based on race and or geographical region in the country.

    • If it isn’t one thing, it would probably be another i think. Just don’t see that as reason enough to block the technology that can also be useful.

    • Joel, contact with parents after school or in time of emergency. Tape misbehaviour to report like the case of the Siparia West principal or even more serious stuff.
      I don’t believe they should be allowed to surf during school time but smartphones have multiple uses.

    • Don’t teachers have smartphones in school?

    • My friend when you where school how did parents contact students? certainly these kids were doomed!

    • A smartphone has multiple uses mantra is without empircal data in fact i can prove that productivity has decreased with increased cellphone use school. we keep saying this mantra because technology is viewed as the next step for everything. Example the UWI did a study on laptops in Trinidad and Tobago it in no way improved students performace.

    • Joel, smartphones are useful for students in the same way they are useful for teachers in my opinion. But everything with moderation. I wouldn’t want it to interfere with their concentration or chance to interact with students.
      But I don’t support a blanket ban based on the points mentioned so far.

    • I know for a fact that at Fatima self the smartphones are put to good use. Some teachers use “Google Classroom” and the kids use it to look up stuff under the guidance of the teacher. An outright ban on phones would be a nightmare because parents need to keep in touch with children after school. The problem is how to control the ones who use it for stupidness.

    • Fatima is school of full top graded kids in the country they already have the academic discpline to pull it off. But if you worked in a school were i taught at in past with greater discpline and remedial challenges ( where most of these videos are coming from ) the hurdles to implement such ITC is tremendous. Hence the UWI study mentioned in my above comments.

    • Joel, I did O’s at CIC and A’s at Arima Senior. So you’re saying I would be trusted to have a smart phone at St Mary’s but not at Arima?
      Explain why certain children don’t deserve particular “privileges” to me? I know about school at both ends of the spectrum (in the way you mean at least) because I was there. And I am still just not convinced that students at certain schools should be denied smartphones.
      When I was a student, there would have been things that would have shocked people if recorded too. And that’s at both schools: St Mary’s and Arima.

    • Gone are the days when certain behaviours were absent from the ‘prestige’ schools. Nowadays incidents pop up across all strata of society.

    • You heard when i said “hurdles” these schools have SERIOUS issues not only found in the student population but a MOE they usually install ITC infrastructure that they can’t manage! because they have earlier hurdles they have not cleared! But as usual the population ignores the very actors in the system and the ITC fails miserably. PS I went one OF worst schools in the country and i know cell phones would’ve been a bad idea.

    • Damian those days never existed to be honest. Just a myth.

    • To be honest, the ‘prestige’ aspect was preserved by covering up many things so that the schools’ names’ weren’t tarnished. You and I know well of incidents in our era that never saw light of day in a bid not to bring disrepute to our colleges. Because this new era of social media means some of these things can’t remain hidden any more, it appears shocking (to some) that this happens there. Sexual assault or prank, that video is disturbing regardless of whether the students were from Church of The Most Holy College or Backwater Senior Comprehensive!

    • I understand that the “prestige schools” get better academic results and kudos for that. But I won’t say they are better people than the children in other schools. Not by a long shot.

    • They are not better people! but by simply saying “Yes we can” and not addressing the array of issues that prevent these sucess we will only anger them. If we keep creating one suit fits all approach we are wasting time.Smart phones are not the first stepping stones to success.

    • I’m fine with that Joel. But I don’t feel saying that because you are in this school we automatically don’t think you are responsible enough to have a smartphone is wrong.
      So one student has to be searched with a scanner for her phone and their cousin at a prestige school just waltzes in with their device. You don’t think the difference in treating the two children is bound to rear its head eventually?
      You’re not afraid you’re helping create a self-fulfilling prophecy?

    • You give crippled man a cane not because you think less of him but because he is needs it.
      Lasana Liburd i think you need to talk to some other teachers beside myself to fully apperciate what is really going on in the education.

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