Trinidad: Denied Scholarship, Pupil Wins Lawsuit

(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) – A CHANGE in the criteria for the awarding of national scholarships to pupils who wrote the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) has resulted in at least one pupil missing out on the opportunity to obtain a scholarship.

The decision of the Education Ministry to change the criteria did not sit well with the former Sixth Form pupil of Presentation College in Chaguanas.

He took the ministry to court and on Monday, Justice Nadia Kangaloo ruled in his favour, ordering the ministry to reconsider his CAPE results for the awarding of a scholarship using the criteria in place in 2016.

That lawsuit was filed by Nicholas Sant as he challenged the Education Ministry’s retroactive application of criteria that was set in 2018 and which he said was “unfair and in breach of natural justice”.

Sant obtained seven grade ones in Environmental Science, Biology, Communication Studies and Caribbean Studies in Unit 1 and 2, and a grade two in Chemistry Unit 2.

In the lawsuit, Sant said those subjects were chosen for him to be eligible for a scholarship in the grouping of science and environmental science.

Those subject choices were based on the criteria that applied in 2016 when he entered Sixth Form.

But in 2018 new eligibility criteria were set by the Education Ministry.

Sant, whose case was led by Senior Counsel Anand Ramlogan, said at the time, he was unaware the new criteria would have applied to him since he had selected his subjects two years earlier.

He said in October of 2018, when the scholarship winners were announced, he was not one of them.

It was following this that he wrote to the scholarship division of the Education Ministry and was later informed he was not considered because of the subjects he chose.

His attorneys argued that the change in the criteria came just three months before the CAPE Unit 2 examination and because his time was taken up preparing for it, he was not fully aware of the new criteria nor did he believe it would have applied to him.

He claimed that he had a legitimate expectation he would have been considered for a scholarship in either of the two groupings.

Justice Kangaloo in her ruling stated that the Education Ministry failed to take into account that Sant had applied since 2016 when he was about to begin his CAPE studies and would have chosen subjects he believed would have made him eligible for a national scholarship.

The ministry’s decision to retroactively implement the new policy for determining those eligible for national scholarships in 2018 was quashed.

She also granted a declaration that the decision to do so was illegal, irrational, arbitrary, null, void and of no legal effect.