SDMS blanks meeting with Education Ministry to ‘iron out’ TSC issues

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly –

THE Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) is refusing to attend a meeting with the Ministry of Education to “iron out” issues surrounding the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) and the recruitment process for denominational primary school teachers. It believes the TSC is acting in “bad faith.”

Last week, the SDMS sent a pre-action protocol letter to the TSC and the Ministry of Education alleging an “unlawful and unconstitutional change” to this recruitment process.

It claimed the change excluded input from the denominational boards as mandated by the long-standing Concordat – a pre-Independence agreement signed between Government and heads of the various religious denominations.

Many other denominational boards supported the SDMS, but the TSC has since said the claims are not true and invited heads of the boards to a meeting last Thursday.

At a press conference in Port of Spain on Monday, Newsday asked Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly for feedback on the ongoing issue.

She said her ministry has held “a number of meetings” with the TSC and stakeholder, and that another such meeting would happen this week to “iron out” the issues. This meeting is set for Thursday.

Reminding that teacher recruitment falls under the TSC’s management, Gadsby-Dolly said her ministry is still an “involved partner.”

But in a letter sent to the ministry by e-mail on behalf of the SDMS, attorney Karuna Maraj said neither her client nor any legal representative will be in attendance. This was followed by a list of reasons.

One such reason is that the TSC, it said, is yet to respond to its pre-action protocol letter.

“Our letter has clearly detailed reasons as to why such actions on the part of the TSC is unlawful and unconstitutional.”

It continued, “On the contrary the TSC and particularly its chairman has engaged in only responding through the media apparently stating that what our client has said by way of its pre-action protocol letter is ‘untrue.’

“Our pre-action letter referred to documents passing between the ADBE (Association of Denominational Boards of Education) and the TSC and detailed a chronology of events to support our client’s claims. It would have been proper to keep within the spirit of the pre-action protocol procedure under the civil proceedings rules and simply answer our letter before any issues engage the courts.”

The letter said the TSC is engaging in a “public relations stunt aimed at saving grace for itself.”

“Furthermore, the TSC has now put out an ‘Order of Merit List’ of names of teachers from which our client is expected to choose persons to teach in its schools. The timing of issuing this list clearly suggests that the TSC did not even take into account those prospective candidates who may have responded to the advertisement published earlier in January 2023 bearing a closing date for applications by 20 January, 2023.”

It said the list does not include the SDMS’ recommendations submitted in July 2022.

“Our client has further had cause to write the Ministry of Education concerning the failure to approve and facilitate a replacement of a primary school teacher with a person who was recommended since April 2022.”

The SDMS wishes to know what Gadsby-Dolly’s role is in this process.

Asked about this and sent the document, Gadsby-Dolly told Newsday: “I have not seen this letter. If and when I do, I will respond to its author.”