Education and training receive the largest budget allocation



BACK TO SCHOOL: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley sits in a classroom at St Joseph’s Convent in Port of Spain which he visited on Monday. PHOTO COURTESY OFFICE OUTSIDE THE PRIME MINISTER –

EDUCATION and training again received the largest allocation of funds for fiscal year 2022.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert presented the budget to the House of Representatives on Monday.

Among the major allocations, education and training received $ 6.886 billion. The figure, however, is lower than the 2021 tax allowance of $ 7.973 billion.

Although Imbert did not give many details on how the allocation will be distributed, he said some of the government’s initiatives from 2021 will continue to grow.

He said the government will continue to provide the public with free access to broadband and information and communication technology (ICT) centers. He said the TT WiFi initiative will continue to benefit schools, libraries and transportation hubs across the country.

Currently, the deployment of TT WiFi is underway in ten transport hubs and 16 libraries. The initiative will continue in 2022 under the leadership of TSTT.

He said TSTT, working with Internet Service Providers (ISPs), will deploy additional sites in all transportation hubs, libraries, schools and health sites.

“ICT centers are already benefiting underserved communities digitally,” he said, providing training, printing and scanning services to these communities.

He said the number of ICT centers will increase from six to 50 in the coming year.

Imbert acknowledged the closure of physical schools and its impact on the social development of students. He commended the teachers for their transition to online education during the pandemic and their dedication to developing the required ICT skills.

He said: “We nevertheless recognize that the pandemic and the closure of physical schools have had an impact on the physical interactions, social development and mental and emotional well-being of our children.

“We would like to congratulate our teachers who have taken up the challenge of transitioning to new methodologies in the classroom, especially online teaching. Many of our teachers serve the dual role of parent and educator and online education is here to stay. “

TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) president Antonia De Freitas said although the union disagreed with the government on a blended learning approach as schools reopened physical classes on Monday , he would wait and see how broadband and ICT programs are deployed. .

“I can share some experiences that we had today,” she said. “Some teachers tried to log in and couldn’t because of connectivity issues, in some cases because the bill was not paid.”

She said that in other schools broadband was not enough and could not reach parts of schools, leaving teachers without access.

“We will wait and see how this particular initiative is implemented. “

Imbert said digital technology will remain relevant and many people now prefer electronic transactions as many companies have embraced digital projects to serve their customers.

He said: “Digital skills training will be added to the in-person IT training provided at access centers: 10,000 people will receive digital skills training, followed by 2,000 more under by agreement with the Microsoft Philanthropic Group. “

He said the government plans to connect at least 25 underserved communities in 2022 and will continue the program until TT is fully digitally connected.

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