From The West Indian Encyclopedia
Kamla Persad-Bissessar (born April 22nd, 1952) is the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. Sworn in on Tuesday May 25tth 2010, she won her seat to out-going Prime Minister Patrick Manning.
Kamla Persad- Bissessar, an Attorney-At-Law, is currently the Member of Parliament for Siparia, a position she has held for the past nine years after having won the seat in three consecutive general elections, with one of the highest number of votes on each occasion.
She began her education at the Mohess Road Hindu School, Erin Road Presbyterian school and Siparia Union Prebyterian school and her secondary education was at the first and only Presbyterian co-ed institution in Trinidad and Tobago – Iere High School, Siparia. She later moved to Norwood Technical College, London, to begin her tertiary education and thereafter the University of the West Indies at Mona and then Cave Hill.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree (Hons.), a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) from the University of the West Indies and a Diploma in Education and pursued studies in the Master of Education. She has been a high school teacher, both in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, and at age 25, she became one of the youngest university lecturers at UWI, Mona Campus.
Spurred on by a love for the world of academia, Persad-Bissessar later pursued a career in law and was named the top student at her graduation from the Hugh Wooding Law School, winning prizes for the Most Outstanding Student and the Best Overall Performance.
At present, she is pursuing IOB’s Executive MBA programme and has completed all exams gaining 12 A’s and will complete the programme with a practicum later this year.
In her political career, Persad-Bissessar has a number of firsts. She was the first woman to act as Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. She was also the first woman to be appointed Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs. She is the first woman deputy political leader of the UNC and the first woman Leader of the Opposition.
During her two-year occupation of the office of the Minister of Education, Persad-Bissessar was successful in establishing Universal Secondary Education, removing the dreaded Common Entrance Examination, replacing it with the more modern Secondary Entrance Assessment SEA, and establishing some 32 new secondary schools in the country, among other major achievements.
Her life goal and mission today still remains working towards building a more just and equitable society for all persons in Trinidad and Tobago.
She plans to continue her political life and is actively engaged in her profession as a lawyer in the area of public law. She recently took up the cause of victims of crime and their dependants seeking compensation from the state through an application to the courts for an order directing the Prime Minister to appoint the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board in which she was successful. She has also made application to the courts for leave for judicial review of the decision of the police not to prosecute in the Bajan fishermen case and a constitutional motion to declare the Caribbean Court of Justice Act unconstitutional, null and void. These two cases are at present pending before the Supreme Court.
RESUME OF KAMLA PERSAD-BISSESSAR, MP
NAME Kamla Persad-Bissessar, MP, Bachelor of Arts (Hons.), Diploma In Education, Bachelor of Laws (Hons.), Legal Education Certificate
BIRTHDAY April 22nd 1952
PLACE OF BIRTH Siparia, Republic of Trinidad & Tobago. Nationality Trinidadian.
FAMILY STATUS Married to Dr. Gregory Bissessar for 34 years, and has one son Kris, daughter-in-law Avion, and grandson Kristiano
POLITICAL PARTY The United National Congress
PRESENT POST Leader of the Opposition of the Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Member of Parliament for Siparia, Deputy Leader UNC, Attorney-at-Law
OFFICE ADDRESS Penal Junction, Penal Phone : 647-4128; 680-6297 Fax : 647-4876
(Primary) Mohess Road Hindu School, Trinidad
Erin Road Presbyterian School, Trinidad
Siparia Union Presbyterian School, Trinidad
(Secondary)Iere High School, Trinidad
(Tertiary) Norwood Technical College, England
The University of the West Indies, Jamaica
The University of the West Indies, Barbados
The Hugh Wooding Law School, Trinidad
Bachelor of Arts ( B.A. Hons)
Diploma in Education
Completed Masters in Education, Persad was then awarded Fullbright Scholarship to attend New York’s Columbia University to do research leading to a Phd but opted to study law
Bachelor of Laws (LLB Hons)
Legal Education Certificate (LEC)
PRESENT: pursuing Executive MBA at UWI IOB – final year of this course. To date successfully completed exams gaining 12 As; practicum paper to be completed this year.
a) Graduated at the top of class from the Hugh Wooding Law School winning amongst others, the prize for Most Outstanding Student and the prize for Best Overall Performance.
b) Certificate of Merit for Loyal and Dedicated Service to the Community awarded by the Ministry of Community Development.
c) Certificate of Merit for Distinguished Services Award by the International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, England and listed in the World’s book Who’s Who’s of Women.
SOCIAL WORKER With the Church of England Children’s Society in London whilst pursuing studies in London
TEACHER St. Andrew High School in Kingston, Jamaica and then at the Lakshmi Girls High School, Trinidad
UNIVERSITY LECTURER Department of Language and Linguistics, UWI, first at the Mona Campus in Jamaica and thereafter at the St. Augustine Campus in Trinidad.
CONSULTANT LECTURER Jamaica College of Insurance
ALDERMAN 1987 – 1991, St. Patrick County Council
SENATOR 1994 – 1995 UNC Senator in the Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago.
ATTORNEY AT LAW On admission to practice law, opened own Law Chambers and went into private practice which continued until November 1995
ATTORNEY GENERAL AND MINISTER OF LEGAL AFFAIRS REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD & TOBAGO – 1995/96
MINISTER OF LEGAL AFFAIRS Republic of Trinidad and Tobago – 1996 to 22/10/99
MINISTER OF EDUCATION Republic of Trinidad and Tobago – 22/10/99 - to October 1st, 2001
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR SIPARIA in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. November 6th 1995 elected as a UNC MP with the highest number of votes recorded for any candidate in that election
Re-elected on December 11th. 2000, winning by the widest margin of any candidate, polling 15270 votes out of a total of 18103 votes cast.
Re-elected 2001 and 2002
Activities in the constituency include development of the infrastructure; encouraging the different religious groups in their community involvement; promoting a renewed emphasis on team and individual sports and Patronage of the Siparia Women’s Organisation.
DEPUTY POLITICAL LEADER UNC
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION, House of Representatives, Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
SOME ACHIEVEMENTS AS ATTORNEY GENERAL
INCREASING THE NUMBER OF JUDGES AND MAGISTRATES
In an effort to deal with the backlog of cases in our courts Cabinet accepted proposals (and thereafter implemented same) for:
the creation of a new division of the Court of Appeal and consequently for the appointment of 3 new Court of Appeal Judges and support staff; the creation of 4 new High Court Judges posts with the necessary support staff; the creation of 12 new magistrate’s posts. FAMILY COURT Cabinet accepted my recommendation for the establishment of a Family Court in Trinidad and Tobago
WORKING PAPER ON EQUAL OPPORTUNITY LEGISLATION In November 1995, instructed the Law Commission to prepare a Working Paper on Equal Opportunity Legislation. The same was completed in January 1996 and Cabinet accepted my recommendation that same be laid in Parliament and published for public comment and that a Joint Select Committee of Parliament be set up to receive and consider the comments of the public and to report to Parliament. The same was thereafter implemented.
GREEN PAPER ON INTEGRITY IN PUBLIC LIFE Cabinet accepted my recommendation that the Green Paper on Integrity In Public Life be tabled in parliament and that a Joint Select Committee of Parliament be set up to receive the views of the public and report to parliament. The same was thereafter implemented.
SOME ACHIEVEMENTS AS MINISTER OF LEGAL AFFAIRS
COMPANIES LEGISLATION (1997) – was instrumental in achieving the monumental task of updating Trinidad and Tobago’s 1929 companies legislation with a new Companies Act thereby effectively bringing the legal framework for the corporate sector into the 21st century
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY Instrumental in bringing Trinidad and Tobago’s intellectual property legislation into the forefront internationally.
Successfully piloted nine pieces of Intellectual Property legislation including The Copyright Act, The Patents Act, the Geographical Indications Act, The Protection of New Plant Varieties Act, The Industrial Designs Act, The Layout-Designs (Topographies) of Integrated Circuits Act, The Trademarks (Amendment) Act and The Protection Against Unfair Competition Act
Prime mover in the field of Intellectual Property in the Caribbean region, hosting several Seminars, arranging for visits by World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Consultants and Caribbean Ministers.
Selected to serve as a Founding Member of the Policy Advisory Commission of the World Intellectual Property Organisation
COMPUTERISATION OF THE RECORDS OF THE REGISTRAR GENERAL’S DEPARTMENT
Instrumental in the institutional strengthening and modernisation of the Lands Registry, Civil Registry and Companies Registry aimed at improving the delivery of services to the public. This includes computerisation of the relevant records. The projects concerning the lands and companies records are well advanced and that of the civil registry is now on stream.
The Companies Registry automated system went partially live in September 1999 and is now fully operational.
In the Lands Registry, all judgements, Bills of Sale , Lis Pendens and Wills have been computerised and the full system is expected to go live in January 2000.
REFORM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LEGISLATION Served as Chairperson of a Cabinet appointed committee for the reform of the Domestic Violence Act and successfully piloted a new Domestic Violence Act through parliament.
REFORM OF LEGAL AID LEGISLATION Instrumental in reform of the Legal Aid Act and successfully piloted same in parliament.
CHAIRPERSON OF JOINT SELECT COMMITTEE OF PARLIAMENT ON THE OMBUDSMAN Chaired a Joint Select Committee of the Parliament to consider the functions and duties of the Ombudsman and to make recommendations for a more effective machinery for the Office of the Ombudsman. The Committee has since reported to Parliament in late 1997.
CHAIRPERSON OF CABINET PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS COMMITTEE Served as chair of the Parliamentary Questions Committee from its inception until recently
CLIMATE CHANGE Served as rapporteur of the African Caribbean and Pacific/ European Union states (ACP/EU ) Working Group on climate change and small island states and completed and caused the report of the working group to be submitted, the recommendations of which were accepted by the ACP/EU
CABINET APPOINTED TASK FORCE ON STATE COMPANIES Chairperson of the Cabinet-appointed Task Force on State Companies. The Task force has reviewed the framework within which state companies function and has submitted its final report and recommendations.
CABINET APPOINTED COMMITTEE ON MARRIAGE LAWS Chairperson of the Cabinet-appointed Committee to review all existing Marriage Laws in Trinidad and Tobago and to make recommendations for the harmonisation of same. The committee has produced a report which identifies the main areas of concern for consideration. The committee has researched marriage legislation worldwide and held consultations with several groups relevant to this exercise.
POLICY ADVISORY COMMISSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ORGANISATION Serving as a founding member of the Policy Advisory Commission
SOME ACHIEVEMENTS AS MINISTER OF EDUCATION
Setting up strategies to deal with the problem of Asbestos in Schools to the satisfaction of all the various stakeholders concerned with schools Launching a co-operative programme between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of National Security to introduce a Drug Awareness and Preventive Programme (DARE) in schools. The Introduction of policies to arrest violence in schools on an ongoing basis. Short term strategies for immediate implementation are being given priority The initiation of disbursement of funds to develop school-based management in the primary schools of the country. The launch of the building of 16 new secondary schools to begin the process of universal secondary education and the de-shifting of certain existing schools. Setting the groundwork for the introduction of a "Values in Education Programme" for all schools The abolition of the Common Entrance Examination in 2000 in readiness for the replacement of the examination with a new Secondary Assessment Exercise for entry into secondary schools. Universal Secondary Education in Trinidad & Tobago
Giving a place to all students who wrote Common Entrance 2000 in secondary schools, thereby facilitating the historical achievement of Universal Secondary Education in Trinidad and Tobago.
The setting up of one model school for students who are seriously disadvantaged and who have problems with literacy and numeracy. A focus on students with learning disabilities is hereby institutionalised and will become the model for further investments educationally for other students in similar circumstances.
Launching of the modernised curriculum for secondary education in twelve (12) new secondary schools and certain pilot schools. Evaluation and assessment of the new curriculum will eventually lead to diffusion with the system.
The launching of an organised programme of curriculum facilitators in the school system to assist teachers with the delivery of the curriculum. The programme is to be expanded soon to one hundred and fourteen (114) facilitators with the possibility of further expansion depending on the availability of funds.
The establishment of a new focus to accommodate Universal Secondary Education where education becomes more child-centered than teacher-centered, where instruction becomes more individualised and where the needs of children are given proper emphasis.
The expansion of the secondary school system through the greater participation of religious bodies in the country through government assisted schools. The establishment of denominational schools was under restraint for several years.
The provision of computer based technology and facilities in the two training colleges for teachers, thereby ensuring that every graduate teacher from these institutions will be computer literate.
The introduction of computer classrooms throughout the primary school system is well under way. The programme to make computer education available to all primary schools is the accepted policy of the Government.
Legislation has been introduced in Parliament whereby all Government schools, both primary and secondary will have school boards appointed for them. These school boards will assist with the development of infrastructure and in the promotion of school policy. They will not usurp the role of the Ministry of Education.
Through appropriate legislation Government is proceeding with delinking the Teaching Service Commission from the Public Service and with the reclassification of the teaching service in order to arrive at a better compensation package for teachers.
An extensive in-service training programme to enhance professional capabilities has been launched among principals and teachers at both primary and secondary levels. This is in keeping with Government policy to modernise the education system in the shortest possible time. Emphasis will be on the modernisation of the curriculum, institutional strengthening decentralisation of administration and professional enhancement of teachers.