Archbishop Joe Harris of Port of Spain has shown that he is not to be trifled with. NO! he said. And he means no. I love the fact that he is a fighter. We need that. Catholics need to have a strong religious leader who is willing to take on any comers. And absolutely, he would have the backing of the Church. Of course there will always be people who would disagree with his tactics. I am not one of them. Hooray Your Grace. You Rock.
All this comes out of a problem with the catholic primary school in the “Carenage” area. The school has been deemed by the (government) Education Ministry engineers as unsafe and so was shut down in late May. The students, teachers and principal were sent to the government Primary school.
The interesting thing is that the government primary school can hold a maximum of 240 students. The Catholic school had 124 and government school had 110. This totals 234 students. That means all the children can be accommodated. With this in mind the Minister of Education boldly states that he was not using government funds to build a new school when all the children can be accommodated in this school. I agree of course….. however, anyone would agree when put in such simple terms. The truth is that the situation is not simple.
Parents are up in arms. They don’t want to send their children to the government school. They chose to send their children to the Catholic school to get a better secular education and a good catholic education. They think that the standard of education in the government school is lower. I don’t know if it is. According to the Newsday newspaper of June 13 2012 The good Minister had the following to say:
I’ve taken note of what your MP Dr Rowley has said about spending the past 20 years looking for suitable land. So until such time as the (Catholic Education) Board can indicate to the Ministry of Education that it has found land for us to build you a new school, we will consider this move a permanent solution,”
“Can I take taxpayers’ money to build another school, at 50 percent or less occupation, when the Pt Cumana Government Primary School has the space to accommodate students from your (RC) school? Building a new RC primary school in Carenage is something we will have to consider for the future with the Catholic (Education) Board,”
“There must be integration of students and parents. As such, I have directed Acting Chief Education Officer, Harrilal Seecharan, and School Supervisor II for PoS and environs, Rose Bereaux, to come to the school compound this week and work with the principals and staff to ensure no more separation of students,” Gopeesingh stated.
He added that the Ministry of Education would “allocate which teacher teaches which class. We cannot have RC teachers teaching only RC students.”
The situation makes sense to me. But My Archbishop has other ideas. And damnit, I agree with him. Let us find another solution. He had this to say:
“The choice of Catholic Education is a right of members of the Catholic Church and in accordance with the legal obligations of the State, the Minister of Education we are advised, has no constitutional power to determine whether a Catholic primary school is to exist or not.”
“As a result of this development, we intend to move our teachers and children to another location with immediate effect until this situation is resolved. Please be advised that we are exploring our legal options in this matter.”
I’m with you Your Grace! Keep on Rocking in the Free World.