Trinidad and Tobago education failures are an abuse of human rights, says law professor

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — Trinidad and Tobago boasts of having free universal education for its citizens, despite the stopgap measure of an entrance examination to secondary school that results in children as young as 11 competing for limited places in the better-equipped public schools, known as “prestige” schools.

The reality is that education in Trinidad and Tobago is neither free (while subsidised, there are still costs attached) nor universal (many of the government schools are poorly equipped and inadequately staffed).

Now, one educator, Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, the dean at The University of the West Indies’ Faculty of Law, and the wife of former prime minister of St Lucia Dr Kenny Anthony, has called on the state to live up to its responsibilities.

In a guest post at the hard-sitting news site Wired868, Belle Antoine argued that things like education and healthcare are human rights; “rights, not privileges, or handouts”.

Antoine was also careful to make a distinction between the government and the state, which she called “a neutralised concept that goes beyond particular administrations and political timeframes”:

“Human rights have long gone past the limitation that the subject of rights only involves what we call civil and political rights — that is, the right to life, to expression, movement, etc. Rather, the more recent understanding of rights is that they also involve what we call economic, social and cultural rights; namely, the rights to education, to health, to work, the environment and to culture.

“Significantly, we have moved away from the self-imposed limitation that economic, social and cultural rights are merely unenforceable ideals. Rather, the international community now accepts that these kinds of bread and butter rights are just as vital, and in some ways more directly important, to the central dignity and equality of mankind.

“Accordingly, international conventions and protocols have been signed and developed to ensure that they have tangible and concrete meaning. Ultimately, what this means, is that states now have direct legal obligations to promote and protect such rights.” Read more

Source: Caribbean News Now