The Trinidad Guardian / I cannot allow the inaccurate and untrue statements from Independent Senator Paul Richards about the work of the Student Support Services Unit of the Ministry of Education to pass without commenting.

I am a former teacher and I know that his statements are false.

Senator Richards failed to do basic research to check his facts before telling the Senate and by extension the population that this unit has shut down.

A simple phone call or a conversation with any principal, teacher or even a student, especially those in the secondary schools, would have provided him with the truth.

Mr Richards could have also contacted other external agencies such as the Children Authority and Ministry of Social Development.

I know these agencies work closely with the Student Support Services on many student-related matters in the community

His statements will surely have a negative impact on the morale and spirit of the hundreds of hard-working school social workers, guidance officers, psychologists and special education teachers nationwide, who provide various forms of intervention for hundreds of students every day in primary and secondary schools.

Senator Richards should apologise to the Senate, the population and all these professionals from the Student Support Services Unit.

Some of these officers risk their lives to work in schools located in certain areas.

They even visit the homes of some of these students and their parents and provide counselling sessions.

These officers also do counselling sessions regularly with an entire class and in some cases the entire student population depending on the type of intervention that is required.

An apology from Senator Richards will be welcomed by these professionals.

Jairam Singh Tunapuna

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