T&T cuts back on free text book programme
Trinidad & Tobago's Education Minister Anthony Garcia says the government will be suspending the distribution of free textbooks to the majority of students in an effort to cut costs.
Garcia, who made the announcement during a radio interview on Monday, said the government will save TT$119 million by cutting back on this provision.
According to the minister, the decision was made by Cabinet following an ongoing series of fiscal adjustments since the presentation of the 2015-2016 budget in October.
Garcia, who admitted that the decision was made based on Government's financial position, said the total cost to provide books prior to the decision for the most recent school year would have been TT$138 million. After the Cabinet's decision, the new cost for school books is TT$19 million.
In the current system, students are given use of books for the school year, which they must return. The ministry then replenishes the stock of books as some are lost or damaged. This system applied to books from primary school to Form 6.
This year, only 10 per cent of the books will be replenished for students in form one and primary school infants.
However, the replacement of special education resources will continue to be fully funded by the Government.
Responding to the announcement, president of the National Parent Teacher Association (NPTA) Zena Ramatali said the education minister needed to give more details on the matter.
Ramatali also raised concerns about students from low socio-economic backgrounds.
"The well-to-do parents could go purchase books but the people who will be most affected are those from the lower socio-economic backgrounds. We hope the ministry could reconsider. The ones that stand to lose are the children from low socio-economic backgrounds who already attend low-performing schools,' the NPTA President said.
The suspension of the programme follows a recent announcement by former Central Bank Governor Jwala Rambarran that the country was in a recession.