Paid extra lessons at T&T school leads to lockout by authorities

(Trinidad Express) Teachers and pupils of the Dayanand Memorial Vedic School in Penal were yesterday locked out of the school compound by authorities who learnt that extra lessons were being held on the compound for a fee.

Balram Ramdial, secretary of the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha (APS), which administers the school, said he took the decision to do this based on a directive by the Ministry of Education which prevents State teachers from accepting money to give lessons on the school’s compound.

Ramdial said, “The principal was informed on Wednesday last week that the school would not be used to give any lessons where fees are charged. This is in keeping with regulation from the Ministry of Education that if lessons have to be given it must be given free.”

Ramdial added, “I sent a letter to the school security informing them that the school would not be available to be used to be giving any lessons. Yet they still informed the teachers and parents and students to turn up there.”

Two years ago a pupil of the school topped the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination. This year, two pupils were in the top 100 performers, and another APS school, Gandhi Memorial Vedic School, had seven students who scored over 95 per cent in the SEA exam.

Ramdial said he was certain the lessons were not being given for free.

“I am aware that these teachers charge. I have reports from parents that they charge. And this is contrary to regulation,” he said.

A senior school official disputed this, saying the lessons were free of charge.

The Ministry of Education yesterday confirmed the policy saying that teachers cannot use the school for extra lessons which require them to be paid.

Yolanda Morales, communications specialist in the Ministry of Education, said “In a case like this, the board is the owner of the property outside of school hours. So these lessons cannot take place there without the authorisation of the board. If the board did not grant permission these classes cannot take place at the school”.

Ramdial said that parents were afraid to speak out against the issue for fear of their children being victimised in the classroom.

“I spoke to some parents and they said they are afraid to write letters because the children would be victimised by the teachers. This is a long ongoing thing. This is not happening now. Now as it is holidays and I find it most opportune now to stop it and let them make alternative arrangements. I have no problem with that,” he said.

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