Trinidad: Lawsuit, as Guyanese child refused chance to sit SEA

By Trinidad Express

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(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) – THE Ministry of Education is being threatened with legal action by the guardians of an 11-year-old boy who claim the child is being denied the right to sit the May 3rd Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) on examination because he is a non-national.

Education Minister Anthony Garcia was issued with a pre-action protocol letter earlier this week by attorneys representing the guardian, warning that if the boy was not placed back into his regular Standard 5 class and allowed to sit the examination, action will be filed at the High Court.

The boy and his two siblings were born in Guyana but had been under the care of Trinidadian parents for the past ten years.

The letter, which was issued by attorneys Jagdeo Singh, Keil Tacklalsingh and Denish Rambally, states that the child had been a fifth standard pupil until just “a couple weeks ago” at a school in Carapichaima when the school’s staff purportedly acting on the direction of some type of “newly implemented policy” from the ministry removed him from standard five and placed him in standard four.

It stated that officials at the school informed the guardians that because the boy was not a national of Trinidad and Tobago he would not be allowed to write the exam. The child together with his guardians had already selected four schools of his choice had he been successful at the SEA exams.

“A salient point to note is the fact that his siblings were allowed to pursue their education (at the same school), rightly in our view, and to write SEA exams (in 2010 and 2017) and continue with their education beyond primary school,” the letter stated.

It went on to say that the ministry owed a duty of care in relation to meeting the child’s educational needs.

“Recently when the Honourabe Prime Minister advised the nation to open door for Dominicans to have a home and education, we dare to say that he did so paying particular heed to your duties and the ministry’s…”

“If there is in fact a purported policy now being implemented by the Ministry of Education, that a non-national student as the child in question cannot continue with his education, such a policy clearly does not serve any valid educational purpose and is in breach of the statutory authority/mandate provided for under the Education Act. Simply put, such a policy is without educational purpose and serve, not to promote, but to prevent education,” the letter stated.

The attorneys warned that if they do not receive a favourable response by 2 p.m. Friday they will have no choice but to approach the court for the necessary relief, including injunctive relief.

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