MOE rejects TTUTA statements on meals & maxi-taxi transport
The Ministry of Education rejects several misleading statements from the Trinidad & Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA), which were published in the print media regarding the issues of school meals and maxi-taxi transport.
Contrary to claims made by TTUTA, the MOE wishes to advise the public there is no means test to determine the suitability of students to receive these services. The efforts by the Ministry to review these services in order to ensure value for money and prevent wastage have actually saved the Ministry millions of dollars so far.
In February 2018, the Ministry established four committees comprising various stakeholders to review the School Transport System, National Schools Dietary Services Limited (NSDL), Weight of School Bags and the National Schools Code of Conduct. TTUTA is represented on all four of these committees as well as representatives from NPTA, PTSC, Denominational Boards and various Principals Associations.
An analysis of the National Schools Dietary Services Limited (NSDL) discovered an excess of seven thousand (7000) meals being served daily. The successful review process also saved the Ministry some five million dollars ($5M) last academic year. Contrary to TTUTA’s claims, the Ministry assures that the NSDL quality control officers adhere to the strictest quality control measures to ensure that all meals provided are well within the guidelines provided by the Ministry.
Similarly, the process to review the School Transport System was designed to improve efficiency and to ensure the Ministry gets value for money. Actually, the stringent measures to analyse invoices for October, November and December, 2017 found the Ministry was being overcharged and resulted in the reimbursement of approximately one point seven million dollars ($ 1.7M). The review process has also unearthed many cases of duplication of claims for payments, maxis operating below fifty percent (50%) capacity and a duplication of maxis on particular routes, maxis transporting two to three students on some routes, among other findings.
Another ridiculous claim made by TTUTA in the commentary was that teachers are now required to stand at the school gate and ensure that certain students are transported by specific maxi-taxis on mornings and evenings. The Ministry of Education reiterates that this is a total fabrication and is farthest from the truth.
The Ministry of Education wishes to assure citizens these prudent measures to ensure efficiency and value for money and to prevent wastage are necessary in these tough financial times. The Ministry of Education also remains fully committed to working with all education stakeholders to provide quality education and greater access to education services for students.
As a value stakeholder, the Ministry of Education is always willing to work with TTUTA towards the enhancement of our Education System. However, within recent times, TTUTA seems to be reluctant to commit to the professional standards upon which it is built, but instead travels on a path of confrontation which will not benefit those we are committed to serve.