Dr. Rowley’s visit to Tobago on Monday was primarily to attend a funeral service of a close relative.
However, the Prime Minister decided to drop in on the National Consultation on Education held at the Magdalena Grand.
Dr. Rowley gave brief remarks and said he fully supports the efforts being made by the Ministry of Education and termed the consultations, "the beginning of new life in education."
But he said our education system is failing.
"One of the reasons why I was driven to ask the Minister of Education to embark upon this exercise in the way we have done is because there is a recognition that we are not doing as well as we should with respect to education in Trinidad and Tobago. In fact, as a person who has benefited from serious public policy in education, who has been responsible for a large number of people over a long period of time and who is a citizen of this country, I can say to you that it is my view that our education system is failing."
Dr. Rowley said he has observed students passing through the education system but not necessarily attaining a quality education.
He said students have become much more concerned about being certified.
"But then, we as a people, an independent people, have consistently spent the largest chunk of our budgetary allocation to education. And education has changed the lives of every family in this country but the template has been certification and we have gone completely in the direction where it’s about getting a certificate, to the point now where people are telling you that they can give you an MBA in six months and then you go and hold it out for somebody to employ you. A lot of false papers washing Trinidad and Tobago with uneducated people."
The Prime Minister said there is much more to be derived from the education system in Trinidad and Tobago to ensure that citizens are educated enough to make meaningful contributions towards the country's development.
"The average citizen has to look for more in education. The teachers who teach have to teach more than what’s coming for exam and the students who come out of school have to come out benefiting from a moulding that makes them on a pathway for a life, regardless of where they end up."
Dr. Rowley said he awaits the final report on the consultations but more so the recommendations that are made. He said only then the Cabinet would be able to treat with the issues.
Two consultations were previously held in Trinidad.