Express Editorial : Daily

THE complete breakdown of systems at Siparia West Secondary School did not happen overnight. The school’s administration, teachers, parents, pupils and, above all, the Ministry of Education and Teaching Service Commission (TSC) must have known about the deteriorating situation at the school long before it made news headlines.

So the questions to be answered by the TSC, the ministry, the principal, the teachers and the parent-teacher association is why was the problem not nipped in the bud?

All or any combination of them could have rung the alarm before the situation reached the point of collapse.

The Ministry of Education cannot wash its hands of the matter as Minister Anthony Garcia has attempted to do by blaming the TSC.

Whether or not the commission has been derelict, Siparia West is failing its pupils, and the ministry’s responsibility is to find a solution to the problem, which the minister suggested is the principal.

While Minister Garcia may have a point in noting that systems are only as good as the people managing them, he must understand that he and the Chief Education Officer are also managers of the education system, and they have resources at their disposal which should have been brought into play in stemming the breakdown of discipline at Siparia West Secondary.

One hopes the minister did not just wash his hands of this school after being defeated in court by the principal, following an attempt to investigate him over a year and a half ago.

None of this is to suggest that principal Sookhoo Sonnylal has no questions to answer.

Flushed with his court victory in October 2017, Mr Sonnylal was passionate in declaring his love for a school which he had attended as a pupil and where he had been employed for 25 years.

He now needs to face the fact of his failure to halt the breakdown and bring the school under control to the point where it becomes the learning institution it was meant to be.

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How does he explain the violence, the taxing of pupils by bullies, the open use of foul language, including against him, and the multiple incidents that have turned this school into a breeding ground for criminality?

Siparia West Secondary is in need of a serious intervention, and whatever their differences, all parties must put them aside and commit to an effective rescue plan.

In a situation where everyone must carry some element of responsibility for the breakdown, buck-passing is useless and will serve only to condemn pupils to failure.

If they have nothing else in common, one would hope that Minister Garcia and principal Sonnylal at least have the best interest of the pupils at heart, which is a good-enough basis on which to collaborate in putting their problem-solving abilities to the test.

True, Siparia West Secondary has defied the ministry’s school-based management strategy by its failure to yield positive results, but this only means the plan’s failure needs to be analysed, adjusted or scrapped and replaced.

The one option not available to anyone is to give up on these pupils.


Every civilisation has its unconscious assumptions, driving forces that motivate and at the same time act as the unseen glue holding the civilisation together. Here we find both the genius of a society and its deepest pain, crying out for redemption.

The Sangre Grande Region which stretches from Valencia in the west to Matelot in the north and comprises approximately 900 square kilometres of land (larger in size than Singapore, Barbados and Tobago) with a population of approximately 100,000 persons, is the least developed part of Trinidad and Tobago.

Perverse rationale. ­Unfounded logic. Two phrases to describe the letter in last Thursday’s Express by Steve Smith, “Stop looking for others to blame”.

While I am 100 per cent for the employee, I am extremely disturbed by the union’s purpose in this country. “The main purpose of labour unions is to give workers the power to negotiate for more favourable working conditions and other benefits through collective bargaining.” However, here in Trinidad the purpose appears to sabotage production and efficiency in any organisation.

An important way to understand a problem is to see it in a wider context and from different points of view. This is especially important for those who are tempted by, or succumb to, the allurement of crime, especially crime involving violence. Thinking only of the short term might seem profitable and gratifying.