Home / View Point / Letters to the Editor / “Pure evilness and unjustness!” TTHTI faculty rages as students asked to pay GATE shortfall to graduate

“Pure evilness and unjustness!” TTHTI faculty rages as students asked to pay GATE shortfall to graduate

“How do young people not get disenchanted with education and the stupid systems that are put in place in Trinidad and Tobago when over 50 students are told that they cannot graduate because the Institute that they belong to did not receive GATE funding for them?

“And, to add insult to injury, they are told they have to dig into their own pockets to pay as much as TT$16,000 within a month or else they cannot receive their certificates!”

The following Letter to the Editor was written by an anonymous faculty member at the Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute (TTHTI), which informed graduating students on 19 December 2017 that, owing to non-payment of tuition fees by GATE, they will not receive certificates unless they pay between $12,000 and $16,000 to the school by 12 January 2018:

Photo: St Francois College students visit the Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute (TTHTI) compound for the World of Work Programme.
(Copyright TTHTI.edu.tt)

“For evil to succeed, it is only necessary for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

I’ve been trying to calm down for the past seven hours but I can’t hold my tongue anymore and will not go quietly into that still night without getting this off my chest.

How do young people not get disenchanted with education and the stupid systems that are put in place in Trinidad and Tobago when over 50 students are told that they cannot graduate because the Institute that they belong to did not receive GATE funding for them?

And to add insult to injury, they are told they have to dig into their own pockets to pay as much as TT$16,000 within a month or else they cannot receive their certificates! Certificates that these students have literally shed blood, sweat and tears over!

What utter shit are we telling ourselves to ever think that this is okay?

The unfair treatment of students is something that I cannot tolerate in the least because I know personally of some of these kids’ history. When you can use students as pawns in whatever dirty politics is being played out, you and the devil must be some sort of close friends—because it reeks of pure evilness and unjustness.

Photo: TTHTI students show off their butter sculptures.

These kids have done everything that has been asked of them, and now you tell them this news a week before Christmas?

Where the hell are some of their single-parent homes supposed to get the money from?

But we sit as citizens of this backward country and wonder why young people find themselves in criminal activity and unlawful acts. It’s bullshit reasons like this!

And I’m sickened to think that a group of “educated” clowns sat and thought up this plan and really believed in their hearts that it made any sense. I only hope that when the universe claps back at them for all their evil deeds, they don’t have to think too hard about what they did to deserve it.

This is not a simple matter of life being unfair but more of human beings being inhumane and not thinking of the long run with education in this country. Somebody in authority needs to step in here and help these kids because seeing them brought to tears and anger and frustration was the most heartbreaking thing I have experienced in a while.

I can’t anymore, nuh, I can’t! The place where I used to call home has been shat on and completely flushed down the crapper and it hurts like hell.

Photo: TTHTI CEO Brian Frontin (right) and board member Delano Ribeiro.
(Copyright TTHTI.edu.tt)

Editor’s Note: TTHTI CEO Brian Frontin told Loop TT that: “It is not only students that have felt the pain caused by the Government’s refusal to pay through the GATE programme but the TTHTI has also suffered great losses and continues to suffer as Government has also refused to pay the TTHTI’s allocated subvention payments to the severe prejudice of the Institute, its employees and its students.”

Minister of Education Anthony Garcia has described the stand-off as a matter for the TTHTI board and its students since “the Board does not operate under the guidance of the Ministry.”

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281 comments

  1. People took advantage of Gate. That is why we end up with this mess
    All kinds of Bottom House Schools were gateing lol

  2. I know someone who is going through the same stress with masters in literacy from uwi open campus… the person did all registrations payed their side of the fees.. has been getting a run around from the administrative office.. to be told they cant receive their certificate unless they clear unpaid gate fees.. gate office says all applications has been received and they are awaiting the ministry to pay.. all this while the person is missing potential job opportunities..

  3. What is the THA and central govt doing with all the taxes and money they are collecting? They are closing down every public education avenue, firing people by the hundreds, not starting up any new activity. No ferry service, air bridge in shambles crime is out of control … yet budgeting more and more billions each year. So #whataretheyspendingourmoneyon ?

  4. Banks make millions every quarter year. Why don’t they introduce a special loan arrangement geared to those students to pay the school and secure their certificates that they worked so hard for? That will be a step in the right direction as both bank and students will benefit.

  5. Should the student find the funds and settle with the school, does GATE’s obligation to pay cease? Or will the student be refunded by GATE.

  6. This is not the only institution that does this withholding. I know of a few persons well who were nit able to graduate because of gate owing money. This is happening since b4 2012. A shame

  7. I’m in Morvant and Karen is in Diego Martin

  8. Are we not supposed to be Prioritizing Tourism and it requires trained Hospitality Personnel?

  9. Just for your information T&T, this has been the position of most international universities from way back in the 70s. The country is under serious financial stress and therefore priorities have to be determined. University students can access a student loan. The country needs to come together and all these educated GATE people should use their education and innovation to take the country forward rather that complaining about the government.

  10. Easier said than done, Reality check. The requirement for most jobs is the piece of paper, unless you are planning to be self-employed.

    • Yes to some degree.
      Ask the boss to give you a chance.

      Also, remember that being fresh out of school unless you were already working in the industry while schooling means you have no experience.

      Working in a real restaurant or commercial kitchen with real customers real money and time pressured is far different from school.

      It’s only after a couple of intense years of doing are you really proven.

      But, Go For It.

  11. My advice to each of them; if what they went to school for is the piece of paper, they can sit around and wait.

    If on the other hand what they went for is the education and training, then take the education and training find a job utilizing their skills. And start earning a living.

    Real result driven employers want experience not a piece of paper.

    Let Rowley and Garcia hold the paper.

  12. The jackassery being experienced today is what happens when education is left to some sorry ass men and women with political ambition and the desire to get rich quick, and nothing more. Any area the political parasites enter gets royally screw it up. Pick any one: agriculture, transport, housing, health, sports…

  13. Remember 2010
    Kamla was accused of going to cutt gate

  14. But isn’t that school govt owned

  15. It’s called accounts receivable. Not certificates receivable.

  16. Can we not do something to ease the stress to these students? Payment plan? Soft loans from a bank at low interest rates? The students will be able to get jobs and help their parents to pay their loans. Can some concession be given by the Government?

    • Hi, the school has a payment plan in place but even with a job, help from parents and donations from strangers it can still take for the least two years to complete the payment. They covered their tracks pretty much. Government on the other hand is saying it’s a school and pupil issue not theirs

  17. The story is referring to TTHTI however the first pic represents SFGC. There is no relation with the hotel school.

  18. Hotel school children who already put in the work can’t get the money as promised, but a tailor from London could have a fashion show at taxpayer’s expense?

  19. What crap is this for Minister Garcia to ‘wash his hands’ over this matter? Isn’t the TTHI a recognized ‘tertiary education’ institution? He may not have direct control of the Board (doesn’t the MOE have a rep on it?) but to absolve the Ministry of all responsibility for intervening in some way… SMH SMH.. Maybe he has been misquoted (again)…

  20. TTHTI, are you all serious. This is an agreement between the government and yourself. Take them to court, do not punish the students who have kept their end of the agreement as per grades. SHAME ON YOU!!!

    • Government and tthti? Really? I swear gate was an agreement between student and government

    • Actually it’s an agreement between the student and gate… the institution agreed to accept the student because they showed proof of third party sponsorship… that third part fell through so it’s up to the student to file against gate for breach of agreement…the institution is well within their right to withhold certificates until payment is made

  21. The new procedure is persons attending Universities /tertiary level institutions etc had to apply for GATE .and do a MEANS test. No more GATE funding or persons over 50. The Ministry added that only programmes and institutions accredited by the Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago will be eligible for funding under the GATE programme, and this policy has not yet been effected hence it cannot be said that ‘some public institutions are not accredited but access GATE funding’. this is the crust of the issue TTHTI should have been knowledgeable on where they stand and informed the students at the beginning of the academic year, not the end. This issue opens a Pandora’s box, since there are also questions as MOE/ Science and Technology has been slack as usual in doing their homework. Is TTHTI isolated in regarding this GATE question, since there are persons operating schools in this country who are not registered with the MOE. From private school to TERTIARY level. This is Trinidad where “everything is everything” only when things reach a hilt questions are asked. I know from my own experience at UWI, the onus was on me to continuously visit administration to get information and DEAL with GATE for verification on issues, because many a student have been shocked into paying monies to get marks, or insufficient grades to graduate, YOU HAVE to seek your own business and interest, No one else will. What are parents role in this predicament since I’m almost certain many paid fees etc (tuition. cauition , insurance etc) for their kids to attend these institutions. Did you all rely on your children for information or did you all check out the GATE website for information. In the final analysis, TTHTI is responsible for disseminating pertinent information regarding GATE to in-coming students. Another embarrassing incident for TTHTI which is well know locallyt, regionally and internationally given the numbers of students who have flown our flags high across the word(chefs , bartenders , etc ) Doing the same thing over and over . Breakdown in all Institutions and no ACCOUNTABILITY What else is new?

  22. Shanice Guerra this is madness

  23. Just for using that word “Unjustness” They should withhold their certificates. The word is “Injustice “

  24. Let the two persons responsible for the roaming charges and three days stay in Tobago pay TTHTI

  25. The photo is of St Francois girls though.

  26. Are we really gonna blame the institution for not awarding certificates that weren’t paid for… It’s GATE’s issue and they are responsible… they promised to pay the institution… they failed … certificates must be withheld and the ministry held responsible…

    • It’s both the institution and the government.

    • Isn’t that a government institution?

    • Leslie-Ann Bristow doesn’t matter if it’s partly state owned the board of directors have to manage the finances and protect the business model… it’s no different if a students gate funding runs out… accounts must be settled before certificates are given….however they could have allowed them to participate in the graduation function but withhold the certificate

    • I disagree. This cannot be done AFTER the fact. If the institution wished, it could have prevented the entry of students until they received the ok from GATE. Instead, they enrolled the students and thus those persons had a legitimate expectation that once they fulfilled their end of the deal, they would graduate. This should not be changed after all of the time spent studying and preparing.
      Furthermore, it DOES matter that it is a Government institution because it means that the government reneged on its own promise to itself and not a third private party. Another reason why the students should not be penalized

    • Roger Collin Pierre like TSTT, T&TEC and WASA although state owned their day to day runnings is not to be directed by the state… Secondly it’s just not prudent to release the certificates to the student…

    • Prudent for whom? We seem to be forgetting who the real focus about this should be about – the students.
      So, based upon your reasoning, the students who were accepted without being informed that the receipt of their certificates would be dependent upon GATE not being changed mid-stream, should just leave well enough alone because the two stakeholders in the deal (Gov’t and institution) moved the goalposts while the game was still in play.

    • Roger Collin Pierre you cannot be serious. The institution is a business..what institution will administer certificates to anyone who has not finished their financial obligations? The state pays student fees through gate…if gate stops the students HAVE to meet that burden…their grouse for unfair treatment is with the Ministry of Education.

    • And your comment about preventing them from enrolling means you have not understood this specific situation.

    • You cannot be serious. Your problem is that you are confusing who the financial obligations fall under. The part paid by the students are theirs while the part paid by the state was part of the contract between them and the institution. Since the institution is a business, they should be suing the state for loss of earnings. However, that is too difficult, so they picked the low fruit and charged the students.

    • This is like TTEC coming and telling you that the rate of electricity has changed and the energy you used for the past 12 months will now be billed backwards to reflect the new cost, therefore you need to pay for that or they will cut your supply. The electricity is also subsidized by the Government in conjuction with TTEC, so according to your logic, they could be able to make you pay for what is already used.

    • Roger Collin Pierre you clearly don’t understand the base principle of a scholarship…the cost incurred is still for a service the student obtained and is essentially responsible for regardless of if his parents, a private citizen or the state promised to sponsor him/her… hotel school did the only possible thing… it’s up to the students to get organized and hold GATE responsible …

    • Keone Guy, I disagree because GATE is not, and never was, a scholarship. It was a mechanism whereby the state agreed to subsidize the cost of education for citizens, not unlike what is done from cooking gas to CAL Tobago flights. It is an arrangement between the Government of T&T and institutions of education and, just like in the other areas of subsidy, a change cannot be made and the consumers made to pay retroactively.
      Further, that arrangement is not between the consumer and the company but between the Government and the company, whether it be COSTAATT, NP, TTHTI or CAL.

    • Roger Collin Pierre remember students must apply for funding as an individual… there isn’t a block grant where free education is offered… because it’s an application process to gain specific funding it is indeed like a scholarship program…the only agreement between the state and the institute is that the state agrees to pay the fees of the individual once they continue to maintain certain standards .. Gpa et al… While the institute can take gate to task for funding which it has attempted to do, it cannot award a certificate that was not pain for… that just cannot happen… it’s not how commerce works or is supposed to work

    • You are agreeing with me in your contribution. The key component is that “the only agreement between the state and the institute is that the state agrees to pay the fees of the individual once they continue to maintain certain standards.” That, sir lies at the root of the contract. Once the students satisfy their obligation to the contract as verified by the institution (who by the way is the enforcer of that aspect of the contract), then they are expected to derive the benefit of having their education subsidized by the state through the same institute.
      Please remember that the student does not receive any funds directly through the subsidy, the institute receives the revenue because the contract is between the institute and the state. Therefore, it is the institute that has to sue the state for breach of contract as it is only the state which did not perform their obligations under the said agreement.
      The student, having satisfied all their obligations thus need to receive their certificates as the benefit owed to them under their contract with the school.

  27. I heard rumblings about this so I believe the story is accurate. Totally absurd! Patricia Worrell, that’s why I have no faith in the current education system. It’s a far cry from when people like you were involved.

  28. Yet 3 million $$ to refurbish and landscape a golf course?. .

  29. My only issue here is the late notice. Are institutions not aware at the beginning of the school year, of what programmes will or will not be funded by GATE?

  30. learie i wouldnt say ransom….i read in the papers faculty was unpaid for months….i sure no one on this thread working unpaid for months and have children to feed and send to school?

  31. The story lacks balance, the editors note ddeserves to form part of the story and each individual students financial situation needs to be assessed on its own merit.

  32. TTHTI holds the power ( temporarily) to holds these students future to ransom (literally). In this instance the “power” that institute holds only reveals who or what they really are.

  33. The government has to get its act together. GATE was pegged to the price of oil so this was inevitable. They have no money yet they continue to give the same number of scholarships this year as they did last year so….we can expect more of this to come. I am totally amazed at the incompetence of our ministry of education

  34. The students have kept up their end of the contract. Their obligation was not payment, it was to attend classes, study and pass the exams. They did. The financial agreement was between the school and the government. it is not the same kind.of agreement between a parent and the school. It can not be treated the same way.

  35. And the political sycophants are rolling out of the wood works. Let the comments continue

  36. so what about the Restaurant and Hoteliers assoc ??? why dont they help with the fees?

  37. I disagree its PNM who provided the education for AL.,However, its SILENCE on pertinent matters from citizens blinded by race, and politics have contributed to where the country is at.Remember its the citizens who elected ALL of them. Its citizens both literate and illiterate passivity which has contributed to the corruption, CRIME, mismanagement,, lack of governance etc . People with ethics, and moral integrity don’t put themselves up for office, because to be a POLITICIAN, you have to be ‘special”

    • You consider what my generation received as “free education’ was really free and really education? One measure of “education” is the end product; not how much we bost about spending but what we get for money. The sorry ass condition in which this country finds itself today is a result of the “highly educated” who received “free pnm education.” From the CJ to the PM, the governor general (President,) the Ag CoP and all cabinet members and those on the opposing side who oppose merely for the sake of opposing. Show me one drop of education in the combined positions mentioned and see why we are where we are as a nation.

  38. In a different era, for women, it was “keep them pregnant and barefoot.” Today pnm’s philosophy remain “keep them illiterate and dependent.”

  39. while the political wrangling goes on, I need clarity on a few things. How long were the students at TTHTI. Didn’t TTHTI explain the changes regarding GATE, and If I’m not mistaken if they were in their final or 2nd year of studies were they not entitled to GATE coverage. to complete their studies. 2017 is when the changes came into effect? Since they have studied and fulfilled their courses, they should graduate.Why should be held accountable for the errors on the part of both institutions (if Garcia said its not EDUCATION, pray tell, who do they fall under?) Really? Are you telling us the public that TTHTI don”t even know which institution they are accountable to and where they funding were coming from. This has to be a joke. Comedy hour in T&T. Speak TRUTH to the students and us the citizens. Over the years millions have been invested into TTHTI which has produced world class chefs, bartenders etc and now this nonsense. Oh when will all this crap end in this, my banana Republic?

    • Maybe when we elect people who aren’t afraid to stand up to the 1%?

    • As far as I recall, under the last admin, there was the MoE and Min of Tertiary Education. Now, as far as I know, they were merged, so maybe that can explain the confusion.

    • Two years the gov.t in office and there is uncertainity? Blame game, Let the young people graduate and let TTHTI get their administrative problems rectified. This happens when governments put friends and family in positions and they are incompetent and unqualified. when problems hit pass the buck, no ACCOUNTABILITY. That’s Trini style of governance, sutained on Nepotism and cronyism.

  40. I saw the interview of the affected students and I was wondering why isn’t a big stink being made for this? This is so wrong…. they asked for gate in the first place because they are not in a financial position to pay so htf can you ask them now to pay what THE GOVERNMENT PROMISED TO PAY….. It’s not their fault it’s THE GOVERNMENT! !! Why isn’t anybody making noise or anyone fron the government coming out and saying something? Stuart Little? AlRoarRi? What happen???? Ivor Archive how come this didn’t strike a note? Nah man Government allyuh have to do something

    • We all need to read the article about the unspent funds and why it was not how on one hand no money but there is point three billion to compl a building this government making a concerted effort to bring it where only the few can afford education.

    • Anesto Cazoe you need to read my comment…… I am stating to hold the students to ransom for failure on the government part to fulfil it’s obligation is WRONG!!!! .. to ask the students who asked for gate to assist them because they could not afford to pursue the course tell them okay approve it then last minute say to them government not paying so allyuh have to find the money otherwise the certificate for all your hard work and hours put in and fulfilling your end of the bargain will not be given to you is WRONG!!!!! I never commented on GATE nor the feasibility of GATE…… smh…..

    • You are quite correct Gemini Harris. The school is using us the students as hostage for the government to pay them. Besides this issue, students are constantly being treated with hostility instead of hospitality. We have to pay tuition plus the subsidy on our lab fees were removed. So instead of paying the usual $2300 per semester it’s now $10500.00 And there’s limited amount of stock and we the students are bringing our goods from home. What are they really doing with the lab fees?

  41. Dennise Demming, what are your thoughts?

  42. 332,000,000 to finish a campus and workers are being sent home “We eh hah no money ”
    Failure

  43. Buju said it well: “if education is the key why the bigger heads make it so difficult fi we.” They prefer to spend money to hold our yoots in jail cells than to see them strive. Great is the PNM!

  44. Again this is same thing of not having all the facts. Firstly the Minister of Education spoke on the matter on i95.5 about three to four weeks ago. Firstly he stated that the institution doesn’t fall under his ministry. Secondly the minister of finance said he was looking for money for the institution.

  45. So wait… Last year or so when the Govt declared that no GATE for the elderly, everyone said screw the elderly and let’s look after the youths.
    Now youths bawling after they get left in the cold and people saying they should use the money they were going to play Mas with…
    So who do Trinis really care about?

    • People only care about themselves and to hell with everyone else. When I voiced my disappointment at the removal of gate for students over 50 years I get pelt in every corner.

    • They only care about supporting a political party that doesn’t give two fruits about them. I remember about 3 years ago a 1% was interviewed during news time and he said that he will like the government to adjust GATE because the workforce is highly educated and no one wants to work in his store. From that very same night I saw that interview I knew GATE was in trouble after the next election and our current economic woes would be the perfect excuse to sabotage tertiary education. My people have ears but we DONOT listen, we have eyes but we DONOT SEE!

  46. But hasn’t this been public knowledge that this was coming since September 2016…? I remember because I was considering putting off a Masters degree at UTT because I got pregnant, but changed my mind when the changes to GATE were announced…

  47. Kyon Esdelle is so insensitive most times eh

  48. i sure the students wouldnt help the institution pay the lawyer fees

  49. the institution threaten to sue the MoE

  50. Look at who is on the board and ask why the MOE is not intervening. UWI makes all students sign a form saying if GATE funding isn’t paid it becomes the responsibility of the student. I would suspect TTHTI has a similar ‘cover’ in place.

    • Ahhh. It is becoming a little clearer now then. Still a sad situation, particular with that deadline. I’d like to assume that they can get their certificates whenever the money is paid of course. But that’s rough.

    • Government has also stopped all subventions to the institute. So it is a double whamny for students. No GATE plus what wld seem like an increase in fees.

  51. im not saying remove Gate…i think Gate should be for all levels….if we have money and clearly the govt is broke

    this is the institution trying to save itself …it hasnt been properly paid by the govt

  52. Laura Dowrich-Phillips, I used a hyperlink from Loop TT in this post as I see your site interviewed the TTHTI CEO and Anthony Garcia. Any updates since?

  53. “It is not only students that have felt the pain caused by the Government’s ‘refusal to pay through the GATE programme’ but the TTHTI has also suffered great losses and continues to suffer as ‘Government has also refused to pay the TTHTI’s allocated subvention payments’ to the severe prejudice of the Institute, its employees and its students.”
    Hmmmmmm

    • Plenty to unpack from there. I hope the mainstream media is on that as we won’t have the resources to go there.

    • Lasana Liburd The TTHTI under the present Board has refused new students and now are not releasing those who have completed by withholding certificates. Seems to be heading for a shut down? There continues to be a lot of ill will operating in the relationship between the present Board & outgoing CEO and now the present board, Govt and students. Observe what is present/ constant and what is absent… concern for students.

  54. What I’m asking here is if the students knew that they had to pay these fees BEFORE they enrolled in their respective courses?

  55. Yes. Yes. We have to put out. I had to, to do my first degree.

  56. Brenda, apart from whatever fees the students may or not have paid during their education. Remember everything from transport, to books, uniforms, equipment, etc isn’t free either.
    It’s not as as if the students haven’t put out themselves too to get their education.
    And remember an educated workforce is a benefit for the country too. Not just the students.

  57. Did these students know up front that ‘education not free’?

  58. We got spoilt. Education is not free. It can be free in a time of plenty but sometimes we have to sacrifice for a good education. Nothing is wrong with that.

  59. some students might have to put off a mas costume or a trip abroad …or sell a car or eat bread and sugar

  60. well education not free and from what i hear the faculty need to get paid

  61. This isn’t only TTHI…COSTAATT students are similarly affected.

  62. My sister is in this position. She said one of her classmates have to fork out $30,000

  63. Level nonsense. The Ministry needs to get their act together.