Maha Sabha complains of unequal treatment

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Pundit Dr Rampersad Parasram, The Dharmacharya of the Santan Dharma Maha Sabha – FILE PHOTO/SUREASH CHOLAI

HOURS after its attorneys fired off a letter to the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) complaining of unequal treatment by the Teaching Service Commission (TSC), the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) received an e-mail late on Wednesday afternoon from the TSC, furnishing it with details of the agenda for the commission’s meeting of heads of denominational boards set for Thursday.

The SDMS’ representative to that meeting, The Dharmacharya, Pundit Dr Rampersad Parasram, also received a separate e-mail from the TSC, dated Janaury 23, giving him permission to have a technical advisor accompany him to the meeting.

The Maha Sabha wrote TSC chairman Elizabeth Crouch on Monday asking for the agenda, noting this meeting was set after its attorneys sent both the TSC and the Education Minister a letter on January 19, threatening legal action over fundamental changes to the recruitment process for teachers for denominational primary schools, in contravention of the terms of the 1960 Concordat.

When no response was forthcoming, Maha Sabha attorney Kiel Tacklalsingh informed Crouch via letter on Wednesday, that the Maha Sabha had formally complained to the EOC claiming unequal treatment.

Taklalsingh’s letter to the TSC on Wednesday raised several concerns over the invitation to Thursday’s meeting.

He noted a lack of details on the nature of the meeting and no request being made to the Maha Sabha for a technical adviser to attend as well, even after other denominational boards were allegedly asked to have their own advisers present.

Taklalsingh also questioned the sincerity of the meeting, noting that meaningful discussions could only be had before decisions were made.

“We wish to place on the record that your recent attempts to engage in further consultation is not only premised in bad faith but also contrary to the principles of consultation.

“It is well-known that the consultation should take place at a formative stage where proposals are being considered in their early stages so that the necessary feedback can be ascertained and certain issues resolved.

“Secondly, it is also clear that you have already concluded your decision and view and so we do not see the logic in consultations save and except that your meeting is all part of big public relations aimed at saving grace.”

Taklalsingh accused Crouch of treating the SDMS and Hindu schools differently to other denominations and said he was instructed to report her to the EOC.

Newsday was sent a copy of the TSC’s agenda letter which was emailed on Wednesday afternoon to the Maha Sabha.

The TSC’s letter stated the agenda for Thursday’s meeting would include: prayer and reflection; welcome to all invitees; description and explanation of the teacher recruitment and selection process for denominational primary schools – from the TSC; the role of the Ministry of Education; Q&A on the process and closing remarks.