T&T PM: Racism will not be tolerated

(Trinidad Express) Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says if allegations of racial discrimination at the Tunapuna Hindu School prove to be true, they are “totally unacceptable” and “will not be tolerated”.

“I am certain the Ministry of Education should do an investigation, (and) should those allegations be true, it is totally unacceptable; there should be no discrimination anywhere in this country,” she added.

She was speaking with the media briefly yesterday following the launch of the Housing Development Corporation’s Colour Me Orange project at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, Port of Spain,

The issue stemmed from an ongoing feud between the school’s principal, Sita Gajadharsingh-Nanga, and the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) general secretary Satnarine Maharaj, the SDMS board and the school’s PTA, with the SDMS claiming she was not upholding Hindu principles and must resign.

The impasse culminated two weeks ago, with Gajadharsingh-Nanga having to go to the school with police and fire officers after being locked out by school security guards.

In Parliament last week, People’s National Movement (PNM) MP Patricia McIntosh produced a letter from the principal to the Teaching Service Commission, in which she charged that Maharaj had told her not to admit black children in the school. Maharaj has denied the allegation, saying he was being vilified by the media and the PNM as a “black hater”, and the high Hindu population at the school was due to the catchment area.

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley has called on Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh to break his silence and condemned the SDMS for overstepping its bounds at the school.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Gopeesingh said, “I received the report from the two supervisors, a supervisor I and a supervisor II, who were selected by an independent administrative team at the Ministry of Education, and the report, which was completed on Friday, will be sent to the Teaching Service Commission today for them to look at and make recommendations on the way forward. “We are operating within the Constitution, with an independent Teaching Commission, and we cannot act outside of that. To do so will be both illegal and wrong.”

Persad-Bissessar said yesterday the Education Ministry would be conducting their investigations and “then we’ll see what they have to say”.

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