The Mis-Education of Tim Gopeesingh

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
July 20, 2011

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeDr. Tim Gopeesingh, Minister of Education, is a gynecologist by training. He is not an educator. At the very least, his response to my inquiry proves his mis-understanding about how a Minister of Education functions. Anyone who has been following this controversy (See “Probe SEA Results” in the July 13 issue of and my subsequent letter to the Minister of Education, July 17 Trinidad Mirror) knows that I only sought to bring to the Minister’s attention the statistical improbability of 14 students from one class placing within the first one hundred students in the recent SEA examinations.

In my letter I asked in light of the findings of two distinguished scholars that the Minister “examine the situation to find out whether anything untoward had happened in this class among the students or the teacher and then report the Ministry’s finding to the nation.”

My request is keeping within the spirit of inquiry that is inherent in the fundamental theory and practice of education. I had hoped that the Minister would display his dialogical skills as an educator and leader of our educational system. I was sadly mistaken. Without even examining the substance of the problem posed, he offered the following response: “I will not engage in any such discussion, and it is not my intention to initiate any such probe.”

This is response of un-intelligent thug. Educators from Plato to Johann Pestalozzi (Swiss), John Dewey and Horace Mann Bonn (American), and Paulo Friere (Brazilian) have always seen education as a process of dialogue rather than monologue; the quest for humanistic understanding rather than engaging in authoritarian discourses in the manner of the slave and his master or the plantation owner and the indenture laborer.

When I asked the Minister to investigate this anomaly I did not ask for a personal favor. I thought I was inviting him into to engage in a dialogical process whereby we could arrive at the truth or falsity of a given condition. I was saying here is a process, undertaken on behalf of the nation, to determine how we place our students in various high schools through the use of a placement examination. The Minister’s primary function is to ensure that the process is fair and transparent.

Apart from refusing to question or the possibility of how such an improbable result could have been attained (the one in one trillion possibility as our statistician cited), Dr. Gopeesingh continued his tirade: “He dismissed Cudjoe’s claims as ‘absolute nonsense’ saying that the school did extremely well, along with some other Muslim Schools.”

I am sure that many schools, including Muslim schools, did well in the examination, but as the head of our educational system, Dr. Gopeesingh has an obligation to tell the public what aspect of my question is “absolute nonsense” and why it is so? After all, a truth does not become self-evident because a Minister of Mis-education so pronounces.

Dr. Goppesing also affirmed that “he was perfectly comfortable with the integrity of the system and that anyone who tried to bring it into disrepute was bent on mischief.”

This is a strange statement. Does it follow that because Dr. Gopeesingh is comfortable with the system that a citizen has no right to question the system? Or, is it that Dr. Gopeesingh possesses the ultimate truth and, like the Pope, is infallible in his judgment on educational matters. Does it mean that Dr. Gopeesingh’s judgment must never be challenged? Or, is this a new brand of Nazism that has invaded our system that says, “No one must question any aspect of the system because the Minister is satisfied with the integrity of the system?”

Many readers responded to my article. One reader asked: “How can 14 students from that school be in the top 100 performing students in the SEA and the school branded a top performing school when it is not categorized as excellent school according to the data from the National Test [2005-2009] Academic Performance Index [API] produced by DERE of MOE in March 2011 and several children from the same school have to resit the said SEA in 2012?”

Now this may be a silly question. It deserves an answer.

Other readers were concerned that the subjective weight of the Creative Writing component of the exam skewed the results. Creative Writing is scored out of 20. This mark contributes to 40 per cent of the Languauge Arts Component of SEA while English which is scored out of 100, contributes 60% of the Language Arts Component. It is in this subjective area that the marks could be skewed to favor one student at the expense of another.

One principal writes: “Several students who received top marks in Maths and English were given low marks in Creative Writing. The top student from a Barataria School had 99 in Maths; 95 in English and 16 in Creative Writing; a top student from Bishop Anstey Junior received 98 in Mahs; 95 in English; 16 in Creative Writing; another student, ‘the best writer in my class,’ received 91 in Maths; 89 in English and 10 in Creative Writing. Similar scores were recorded among the students in the East-West Corridor.”

On the other hand, 3 students from Ramai Trace Hindu School all received 20 in Creative Writing; in the 80s in English; and 98/99 in Maths. All of these students were recorded as Top Performing students; that is, having an average of 95 per cent in the SEA.

She notes: “If several students from the Corridor were given Creative Writing marks that really reflected their true potential, more of these students would have been among the Top Performers.”

She concludes: “I can tell you that it’s a long time now that allegations have been made about certain schools and certain fellow educators with respect to SEA papers and the unfair/dishonest advantages it gives their students.”

The coming of the PP does did not give Dr. Gopeesing the right to introduce an authoritarian and dictatorial style into the education process. His statements may sound firm and unequivocal but they speak to all of the ills of the country: the inability to respect the views of others and to understand that he is not a boss on a plantation nor a resurrected slave driver but the head of a system that should allow citizens to think through ideas and to try to arrive at just conclusions in a democratic manner. The Ministry of Education is only a conduit to arrive at that desired outcome.

Dr. Gopeesingh has a public obligation to reexamine the results that the Chaguanas Government Primary School obtained and to report his findings to the nation.

24 Responses to “The Mis-Education of Tim Gopeesingh”


  • I agree with Cudjoe that the Minister’s response was inappropriate. The Minister has an obligation to respond more favourably to any request and he should at least make inquiries in his department.
    I also believe that Cudjoe’s motive here is not racial, as accused by many. An educator of his stature surely would have examined the names of the top 100 in previous years since they are posted.There is a predominance of Indian names every year.

    • I am not sure what you are saying. If there is a predominance of Indian names every year it would mean that it is a constant and the current minister of Education has nothing to which he should respond.

  • Once again i ll agree with the professor and this response of teh minister begs us to wonder if applies the mechanics of his degree to being a minister…. i wonder how that works?

  • If 14 of the top SEA student comes from one school and one class in particular, then there would be some level of suspicion by the illiterates of this world. Jealousy is a bad twang. Unless there is concrete evidence to prove “cheating” one simply have to accept the results. Further Minister Gopeesing should duly note the complaints and do his own internal investigation and put in place better safe-guards for the SEA.

    If the 14 came from the same class it does not necessarily mean they cheated, all it means is that they were exposed to the same teaching material and grasp the concepts together. It is possible for a single cohort to excel if the material taught is grasped together.

    I remember when I wrote Common Entrance exams, I went to a different school and the students from that school came to our school. That way no could assume, presume or suppose that cheating ocurred. Our teachers did NOT supervise our exams. I don’t know if things have changed. Putting in place systems that are transparent is perhaps the best way forward for the SEA program. After all, all it takes is a disgruntled parent to say “dey cheat” and some “indian man” help out to cause unnecessary consternation.

    So the Minister of Education would do well to review exams procedures and intentionally change things just before exams to prevent others from say “dey cheat”. Further he must be able to clearly say what are the safe-guards in the unlikely event that 14 out of 25 student excelled in exams. For their sake, their parents and teacher sake but most of all for integrity of the process sake..

  • Yeah, based on Cudjoe’s logic, the Windies team is the worst among the top 10 in the world and that’s because the ‘neutral’ umpires cheat against us because we are a black team.

  • Your use of analogies automatically assumes that because these sometimes point to the truth that they are true.

    In fact, metaphors and analogies, the more powerful they are, the easier are they to supplant the truth.

    These are rhetorical devices, primarily, and in the hands of someone who values being incisive in thought are useful.

    To someone incapable of such thinking, and who is also not broadguaged in analysis and humble enough to try to be objective, these devices are not only misleading but cal also be downright dangerous, especially to the simple-minded.

    In fact, it is the easy use of such analogies by American politicians, for example sports metaphors like “stepping up to the plate” used to demand that one takes responsibility for their actions that are used to involve the society, one quite remarkable for its vast ignorance, why American leaders can use patrioticc metaphors to involve the citizens into supporting wars while being deceived.

    Unfortunately, too, in T&T are these easy uses of analogies taken as systems that parallel facts and truth.

    They do not.

    Therefore, my advice to you is do not be deceived; and even more, do not be self-deceiving.

  • I thought I was the only person who found these results to be unsettling. I personally believe that the exams were skewed to a certain ethnic group. It is not such a far fetched idea as we just saw the entire school district of Atlanta was found to have done this. The mere fact that the Minister of Education refused to entertain any query into these results tells us that it is truly suspect. Thing is, he know now that he is being watched. Let us see what the results will be next year. How in God’s name will be put Creative Writing above English and Maths. OMG, there are some people who would do anything to appear to be superior and Trinidad has a whole cadre of people such as this. Mr. Cudjoe, please continue to engage your learned co-educators in these discussions and do not waver from your quest to find the truth. After Reshmi and others who have been exposed for maniupulating their resumes in Trinidad, anything is possible. PLEASE, please get the answers we so badly need.

    • Avalynn wrote”I personally believe that the exams were skewed to a certain ethnic group”.

      As a Bajan lady once told me “when all else fail use race”. It stands true to the afore mentioned statement. Without ANYKIND of evidence it is suddenly a race thing. It is Avalynn, called presumptiousness, it is to presume without any factual evidence that certain people does not have the right to succeed in this nation because of their ethnicity. It makes me sick, because not so long ago white folks in America thought that black folks was not suppose to succeed. And so they murdered and attack black folks because of their ethnicity, nothing else.

      A man name Hitler thought like you Avalynn and went about on a murderous rampage to stop a particular ethnic group. History is littered with people who feel that other races are somehow cheatin because they worked hard. Thus the Hutu versus Tutsi mentality permeates every strata of society where the basis for success is defined by racist individuals. Please understand it is not about asking the question, the prof had every right to, it is really about the presumption of guilt without any empirical evidence. And the judgement on an entire ethnic group, maybe you need to take a long hard look in the mirror…

      • Mamoo, your Bajan lady was, if I am not mistaken Black, thus giving some credence to your argumant, that Black people use the “race card” as the Republicans said against Obama on many occasions when all else fails.

        Well, there is another quote for you. Take Cheddi Jagan who, unlike your Bajan lady, has the main airport in Guyana named after him.

        He was among those who scuttled the West Indian Federation because he said, and I paraphrase, ‘this would weaken and reduce the political and cultural influence and future of Indians’. Even more explicit and Hitlerite was his use during an election after he had lost the political support of all the Black compadres, for example, in the Walter Rodney, Working People’s Alliance, when they saw how his administration had fired every Black civil servant of any rank. Cheddi’s election statement was, “apanjat” vote race.

        Is apanjat a form of Bajan-speak, perhaps?

        And what of T&T today? Do you think if the election was called now, the PP would get the support of Black Trinis? Is it because Black Trinis do not like Indians? Or is it the Hindu triumphalism that has shocked and frightened too many of them, now unemployed?

        I have s sister-in-law who runs a school. For several months, she has had, out of her own pocket to pay her staff, something she never experienced under the PNM … and she voted PP!

        In fact, the ease witgh which you ascribe racism to Black people reminds of how Kamla, unable to refute the irregularities about Reshmi, attacked Rowley claiming he ‘didn’t like Indian women’.

        I imagine that Reshmi also went to the school and was among the top ten students … and also received a long distance PHD from a university that has and had no US state accreditation.

        Somebody really has to look themselves in the mirror,
        but one that isn’t two-faced.

        Shalom.

        • “Is apanjat a form of Bajan-speak, perhaps?”-Neverdirty.
          Guyana is still suffering today from the blight of Burnham and his “apanjat” ideology. Nehru coined the word when Jagan and Burnham met him, but Burnham was the better student. Today the “mudland” has not recovered from years of Burnham’s “apanjat” policy. Thousands fled the murderous rampage of Burnham excesses. I met some of them and their stories will send chills through your body. Like the woman who jumped into the laterine to escape the murderous gangs that came to her village. Today she is non-functional. If Cheddie had embraced the “apanjat” policy, Guyana would have been rescued from the failed state that it was but today is slowing rising out…

          • Mamoo, all your evidence, especially citing ladies who speak to you, is anecdotal. Stories someone told you; some even making you feel chills.

            Oooo!

            You have a tendency to believe whatever you hear that confirms your ideological base, expectations and hopes that Black men are dangerous and Indian haters.

            Did you know that every of the following Black men have at one time or another been called racist: Martin, Malcolm, and Mandela?

            Do you know any Black men who do not fall into that category … including Jack?

  • Power does not corrupt men, but a fool given a position of power corrupt power.
    And Ramjit boy be careful what you say, it have at least five Indians on the West INDIES team.

  • Mr. Tim Gopeesing Minister of Education is a gynecologist not an educator. This is true, but Mr. Patrick Manning was the PM and he wasn’t a lawyer nor was he a economist, he was a geologist. And we the people of sweet T&T trusted him and place our nation into his hands. Mrs Hazel Manning was the Minister of Education she did not have a degree in education nor could she speak the english language “breakfastes” So tell me what is so wrong with a Dr. being the minister of eduaction. the 14 children from the same class ans the same school that did very well in the SEA exams i say congrat’s to them there teacher and there school. Those children were just fortunate to have the gift of a dedicated teacher. Congrat’s again.

  • This is the same so called Professor who said that UWI is racist because the majority of students are non- blacks. He recommended that the admission should be one Black, one other regardless of the entry requiments.
    Then Manning went ahead and build the U.T.T for his people.
    If Tim is a doctor and not qualified to be the Minister of education, What did you Codjoe know about Finance and how did you get on the Central bank Board?

    Reply.

    • If U.T.T is a Burnham type of school for blacks why are Indians from Guyana so interested in going there? (we know why it is FREE for the citizens of T&T so the local “apanjat” UNCERS will give them T&T i.d cards so they can attend the “black school”)

  • “Dr. Tim Gopeesingh, Minister of Education, is a gynecologist by training. He is not an educator..” Barrack Obama was a fund raiser and a community organiser and he became President of the United States.(according to Guilliani) Rowley has a degree in geology and he is leader of the Opposition. We need to listen to the prof and find suitably qualified persons. Since Keith is a geologist by training he should be immediately disqualified from being leader of the Opposition. Barrack might be heading into single term presidency if the Republicans can discover a star.

  • How does Dr Cudjoe explain children of east Indian descent winning the America national spelling bee three years in a row? He should be calling for an investigation into schools that are doing poorly,so that a plan for positive intervention can be developed. Crying down excellence does not make failure look any better.

  • How does Dr Cudjoe explain the fact that just a few secondary schools obtain the vast majority of scholarships every year at A Levels? Schools like Naparima College, Presentation College, Queens Royal College and St Augustine Girls High School are well known high volume scholarship winners every year for decades now.These scholarships are based on examination results and usually around seventy five percent go to Indians Explain that.(Indians make up about forty five percent of the population).

  • Focusing on Dr Gopeesingh is entirely wrong.
    Focus on the schools that are performing poorly.
    Identify their weaknesses and devise programs to remedy them.
    Stop crying down excellence.

  • I so happen to grow up with a very wise ,and beautiful post slave , great great grand child , in my own Grandmom, and she was so wise, dat even Socrates,& Solomon – who many profess to be extremely wise -had nothing on her. One of here favorite quotes to me, before she died- when I reached 16 -was , “ah rather you than me.” It was in reference to some foolhardy escapade she observed some well intentioned bloke pursuing in life ,but to no avail .
    I would say the same to you our learned friend Dr Cudjoe ,when it comes to this socially immoral creature , referred to as Dr Tim Gopeesingh, and the many jokers ,who choose to support him ,and his country hating kind.
    This was the same self serving racist ,who took to the international stage to proclaim that his tribe, was being subjected to the most blatant , though unsubstantiated , ‘Ah Free- Khan,’ genocides imaginable,in Trinidad and Tobago his country of birth, simply because one of his desperate students was unable to obtain a job he interviewed for – that maybe went to a Cuban ,or one of the hundreds of Nigerians , alleged doctors, that have unfortunately invaded our country seeking a better life, than that accorded to them respectively in lifetime socialist Castro’s kech tail ,dung heap Cuba,or corrupt Nigeria, where selfish , uncaring politicians, and greedy business entities have full reign ,in that oil ladened ,under achieving West ‘Ah Free Khan’ country.
    http://test.guardian.co.tt/?q=news/politics/2009/07/18/ethnic-cleansing-pos-hospital-dr-tim&page=1
    We wish our 1.3 million of people well, as they endure the political travesty that masquerade as leadership , and sustainable development , under the progressive stewardship of Queen K, after enduring the past 5 social miscreants ,starting with Dr Deffy Eric Williams , intelligently challenged George Chambers, insecure,Tobago self hater ,ANR Robinson,aka Ah we bouy/ Castaria kid, South Asian head guru/Tribalist in Chief ,Basdeo Panday,and his all time drinking buddy,in clueless , vindictive ,pro cronyism / nepotist, Patrick Manning. We love this country , eennnt?
    Or maybe not- depending on who is asking , or rather who is being asked.

  • Can America’s loss be Trinidad & Tobago’s gain?

    Maybe this accomplished educator is looking for a job; her choice can’t be any worse than our Canadian Police Commissioner

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/tavissmiley/tsr/too-important-to-fail/million-dollar-buyout-the-resignation-of-philadelphia-schools-superintendent-dr-arlene-ackerman/

  • I don’t think that she ,and Education big Ministerial head huncho, Dr Gopiesingh ,aka,de national genocidal screamer, can coexist ,karibkween.
    After all , the man could not deal with our Nigerian, and Cuban doctors invasion, and he most definitely won’t stand for this , unless, she plans to pick up the same all white turning, disease ,acquired by, insecure, pill popper MJ , the King of Pop,and alleged pedophile.

  • For those under appreciated T&T educators of African descent.

    http://www.teachaway.com/jobs

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