Responding to the  Alleged Conspiracy Against  African Students

By Stephen Kangal
March 04, 2020

Stephen KangalQuestions and Legitimate Concerns for the High-Powered Authors of the Statement on the Education of Children of African Origin
(First Published in the Express of 24 and 25 January and 5 and 6 February 2020 in the Newsday)

The foregoing list of questions and concerns is geared to be succinct in my reply. I cannot address all the mentioned points in full in the interest of brevity. These authors dealt with cosmetics and were unfair to the thinking community of T&T.

It also must be considered against the backdrop of inter alia, the following:

All the innovation in education were first implemented in black-dominated urban areas including the School Feeding Programme, School Transport, Free Texts, Counselling. libraries, ICT and others;

— The establishment of the UTT to cater for the majority of African students and faculty members;

— The $55 m Secret Scholarship Fund of the PNM;

— The Political Patronage in the Education Ministry since 1962 and the 8:1 ratio for the Award of Development Scholarships post 1962 to the 70’s.

— The 90% African student intake and Faculty at UWI in the 60’s when equality of educational opportunity was not a concern

— When all schools were in the urban communities pre-1868 and secondary schools were QRC, St Mary’s, Fatima and Naparima and Presentation in San Fernando. Everything then was hunky-dory with the Catholics and Anglicans catering for the African urban elites.

1. The Statement is geared to introducing the Ethnic Factor in Educational Planning, Reform and Determination/ Allocation of Places in Secondary Schools. Changing the goalposts to facilitate black children who it appears can no longer compete with the noveau arrive Indians.

2. Under conventional wisdom the statement can and will be considered to be divisive in its objective and racist in its intention.

3. An attempt to move the goal-post and remove the competitive criteria to suit an underlying ethnic agenda

4. If the title were: The Education of Indian Children that will have provoked and evoked a huge uproar from the African community

5. It is also a long-range pamphlet geared to galvanise African support for the General Election of 2020 on the basis of a conspiracy theory and victim-hood of the African students while appearing to support Prime Minister’s flippant statements on the relative position of the African community in T&T.

6. There are many mistakes in the Statement on the false and superficial levels on which the argumentation for the special treatment/ positive discrimination favourable to African students, revolves.

7. A lot of false hear-say assumptions without the relevant data collected on the theses, for example, the relative household incomes of African families compared to that of Indian families.

8. How did they judge the educational performance of children of African origin that formed the basis of the concerns expressed in the Statement? Is it by those who win CAPE scholarships exclusively?

9. How is the complex concept of inequality of educational opportunity/schooling assessed and defined by the writers of the Statement?

10. At what period in time was equality of educational opportunity inclusive of the period of the granting of State Development scholarships of the 60’s and 70’s achieved?

11. Is the suggestion that pre-schooling (ECCE) does not cater for African children part of the complaint since these schools were first established in predominantly African dominated areas in this very small country of ours?

12. Information on the Concordat System of Allocation to Assisted Secondary Schools is totally incorrect.

13.The competitive methodology for allocating students to secondary schools misrepresented.

14. The Concordat did not cater for the children of the elites. Grave errors in misrepresenting the consequences of the Concordat even the Catholics were in the forefront of the negotiations with Dr Williams regime (The late JS Donaldson as Minister of Education in 1960 and Father Pedro Valdez Principal of St Mary’s College signed the Concordat)

15. More Indian Children come from low income earning households than do African children and dysfunctionality is a cultural factor- not financial nor economic.

16. Back in time Black Children were beneficiaries of selective and restricted educational opportunities present exclusively in the urban communities as well as of political patronage. The Indians were isolated in the rural divide to prevent them from obtaining urban (Civil Service) jobs. It took the Presbyterian Canadians from 1868 to rescue the Indians from illiteracy and poverty- not the British Colonials who were exclusively concerned with the training and development of the African community resident in the urban centres. Bhadase rescued the Hindus beginning 1953 with the Tunapuna Hindu School.

17. The Statement insinuates that there is a conspiracy to isolate black children to promote under-performance and victim-hood?

18. How did PNM political patronage and the exponentially expanding gang culture including school violence contribute to the mis-education of Black Children?

19. Who was targeted by the Technical schools given their urban location in a small developing island state such as Trinidad and Tobago?

2 thoughts on “Responding to the  Alleged Conspiracy Against  African Students”

  1. Good analysis of an education system that worked hard towards the upward mobility of African children. If you were to look at some of the leaders today and listen to them, you will think that Africans are the most disadvantaged group in TnT. This after 57 years of independence where had it not been for denominational schools Indian children would have been denied an education.

    There is the false sense that African people are disadvantaged and suffering in this country. The current administration as soon as they assumed power engaged in a massive “restructuring” program. Anyone who look UNC hit the bread line, many of the professors at UTT were Indians restructured out of a job. Today if you are African unqualified but have a PNM party card you will get a government job. You will get government housing. The recent allocation of housing in St.Joseph was 98% African allocation.

    Africans in Tobago are amongst the richest in the Western Hemisphere. Many have nice jobs in Port of Spain but own villas in Tobago that they rent out, plus every project in Tobago is millions in cost over run. Along with that the government transfers an unusually high amount of money to Tobago. The first thing Rowley did as PM was to increase the subventions to Tobago. The average Tobagonian receives over $85,000 per year compared to about $35,000 per Trini in tax dollars. Whilst the majority of taxes comes from Trinidad.

    The current Labour minister “Jenny on the run” has virtually disappeared. All government contracts are being given out through balisier house. This is her new office space where she and her minions are firing Indians left, right and center.

    Anyone who thinks African people suffering in Trinidad need to have their head examined. They are savouring the fat of the land in education, employment, housing and in government disbursements . They have created a strong economic base. Don’t let the gangs fool you, they serve a vital part of making people think Africans are disadvantaged. When it is quite the opposite…. All regional cooperations controlled by the UNC have virtually gone bankrupt in the last 4 years whilst PNM run cooperations are drinking from the fountain manage by the short man in full abundance.

  2. The report has its problems. It seems that it was compiled out of frustration with the displacement of the African professional class by an increasing number of Indians who are beginning to dominate the professions.
    It is a mistake on both sides to turn this deterioration being experienced into a racial and ethnic issue.
    The real problem is the education system itself which puts African children and “others” at a serious disadvantage. While T&T perpetuates an out dated, old fashioned and inflexible system of programming, instruction and assessment, most countries, including the one from which the system was inherited, have evolved. The UK has long eliminated the narrow assessment based educational system which is now unsuitable to the changing needs of modern societies and the psycho-educational demands of the contemporary student.
    The traditional dinosaur who is the present minister of education will never make the radical changes needed to improve the quality of education and achievement of ALL students. Another formidable and uninformed group which is hindering changes are the parents themselves. They are only too happy to maintain the status quo.
    Did the authors of this report examine failure rates of all students at all levels in T&T? It is alarmingly very high.
    Focusing on achievement based on race and ethnicity is a mistake.
    Focus on the changing needs of the student. Improve teaching strategies. Re-examine assessment strategies. Develop school improvement plans. Consider demography and economic profiles of communities. These are only some of the areas of emphasis.
    Lamenting the loss of African domination of the professions is unproductive.

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