Two years after monitoring the now discontinued Continuous Assessment Component (CAC) of the Secondary Entrance Assessment, retired educators are still awaiting payment of their gratuity by the Ministry of Education.
Meanwhile, several of the 25 former school supervisors and principals who were employed on contract by the ministry in January 2016 are suffering from various illnesses in their senior years. They said the money needed to purchase the required drugs are too much for their pensions and they are depending on their $20,000 gratuity.
In 2012, the CAC was introduced to diversify the SEA syllabus. From the academic year 2013-2014, 20 per cent of the marks originated from Standard Four performances and another 20 per cent from Standard Five. Pupils were assessed in dance, drama, agricultural science, citizenship education, visual arts education, music, physical education and character education. However, in April 2012 the CAC was discontinued as Cabinet decided it was being done to the detriment of students.
Former monitor David Maharaj said they were hired to ensure the assessment was an appropriate standard and there was quality marking. After the CAC was scrapped the ministry reassigned them to other duties, like monitoring the curriculum. By September 2016, three months shy of their contract expiry, they were called to a meeting at the Rudranath Capildeo Learning Resource Centre in Couva and told of the termination of their contracts.
According to Maharaj, their contract had a termination clause that absolved the ministry from paying for the entire duration of the contract. However, he said an official told them because they were being terminated early the ministry would make every effort to pay the gratuity expeditiously. But this month makes it two years since they were severed.
Another former monitor, Benison Jagessar, told the T&T Guardian that many of the former monitors have been to the ministry inquiring about payment. However, the standard response was that the ministry is still awaiting terms and conditions from the Chief Personnel Officer and this must be done before payments can be made.
“A lot of the monitors need to get their money because they are getting sick. They need it for health reason. We checked the ministry a few months ago and we got the same story. When I asked them when they will get the terms and condition, they said they don’t know,” Jagessar said.
“A few monitors have died since without getting their payment. We are retirees, some in our 60s and 70s and some of us have health problems. We are depending on this money to help us.”
Contacted on the issue, Minister in the Ministry of Education Dr Lovell Francis said he would ask the Director of Finance at the ministry to investigate the claim and have it rectified as soon as possible. He said because of the bureaucracy in the public service the ministry has to get the terms and conditions of the monitors’ contracts before payments can be made.