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Ash Wednesday absenteeism

Published: 
Friday, February 16, 2018

Whatever marginal improvements there have been in school attendance on Ash Wednesday in recent years, attendance this year was still way too low to make any sense.

Commendable though this year’s efforts by the Ministry of Education to encourage greater attendance were—including a jingle and public service announcements—they did not yield any real results. Teachers turned out to virtually empty classrooms, so there was little or no teaching on that day.

The Ash Wednesday debate has been going on for years and no matter how much Education Ministry officials try to coax, cajole and even warn against absenteeism, most students stay away and the handful who show up do little more than attend Ash Wednesday services, where required, then go home early.

There must be more practical options for dealing with this decades-old challenge. Perhaps the academic year should be adjusted slightly to cater for the inevitable lost teaching time after Carnival by reclaiming that lost day or two just before the long July/August vacation.

The Special Select Committee (SSC) appointed to examine the recent failed process to recruit a Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioner of Police gets down to work from today with the first of three scheduled in camera sessions at the Office of the Parliament in Port-of-Spain.

Information posted on Parliament’s website shows that two other meetings of the SSC will take place on February 23 and 27. The deliberations of this six-member bipartisan committee are critical and they do not have the luxury of time—there must be the swiftest resolution possible of issues that have arisen over the appointment of the two most senior members of the T&T Police Service (TTPS).

This very important work has implications for the TTPS and the Police Service Commission (PSC), so, the faster this SSC can complete its work, the better.

Apart from the expected post-mortems, it is time to put a wrap on Carnival 2018. The season ran its course with some challenges and the usual share of controversies but these did not overshadow the high calibre presentations and performances of the last several weeks.

Congratulations to the winners of the various mas, pan and calypso competitions for reminding the nation of all the excellence that come to the fore at this time of the year.

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