SANATAN Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) general secretary Vijay Maharaj said the denominational boards are upset over the Government’s “disrespectful” move in not appointing any of its members to a committee to further review and recommend changes to the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) and the Concordat.
In a telephone interview with the Express, Maharaj said the boards will be meeting today to “draw up a complaint of disrespect” and raise their concerns to the Education Ministry.
The ministry stated yesterday Cabinet has given approval for the establishment of a committee to further review and recommend changes to the conduct of the SEA and transition to secondary school, and the Concordat.
Representing a majority of schools
A statement from the Education Ministry informed that the committee’s establishment was initiated following the collation of the outcomes from the National Virtual Consultation on Education 2020: “Transforming Education—It Takes a Village” and review of relevant consultation reports.
Maharaj noted the denominational boards collectively represent a majority of schools in Trinidad and Tobago.
“We (SDMS) are the third largest denominational school board in the country after the Catholics and the Presbyterians. We would have thought that our input was necessary in both the SEA and the Concordat which they wish to review, so we feel we’ve been slighted and disrespected,” he said.
He noted the Concordat is an agreement that was signed in 1960 between John S Donaldson on behalf of the Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese, which represented all denominational schools and boards.
Maharaj said the denominational boards in this country own 340 primary schools and 44 colleges.
“Now we have been left out all together, both in the revision of the Concordat and the SEA. I am very disappointed because you have a lot of what you call ‘technocrats’, not people on the ground, university lecturers and armchair critics,” he said.
He said there is no representation from the denominational boards—the Roman Catholic board, the Presbyterian board, the ASJA board, the SDMS board or the Anglican board.
Maharaj said on the committee there are three representatives from the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO), but that body does not have members who necessarily have schools and therefore cannot represent the denominational boards in a “tangible” manner.
He pointed out that the committee comprises a “large contingent”.
“It is totally disrespectful not only for the Maha Sabha, but the association of denominational boards,” he said.
He questioned when was the committee formed because one of the members—Lance Mottley—is no longer the president of the National Primary School Principals Association (NAPSA)—there was an election and he was removed.
“How was this committee formed? I believe the Ministry of Education is taking the denominational board for granted,” he said.
Maharaj said the SDMS and a number of other denominational boards have been taken for granted and sidelined, saying they have not received any devices that the Government distributed to school children.
He said all have gone to Government schools.