Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly says it might be time for a discussion on mandatory national service for repeat delinquent offenders in the nation’s school system.
National service usually refers to placing young people to serve temporarily in the military when they reach a certain age. It is used in many countries around the world, including Israel, Singapore and South Korea.
Speaking in the Parliament on Wednesday, during the 2024 Budget debate, Gadsby-Dolly said the Government has tried to be patient, particularly given the COVID-19 disruptions, but there are still too many children who are “violent, disrespectful, addicted to drugs and marijuana, gang members, completely uninterested in education, and out of parental control.”
“The time may have come for Trinidad and Tobago to enter into a national discussion about students who are misbehaving at school despite the best efforts of the ministry, to give them that support to change their behaviour to be entered into a mandatory national service so that they are given the support they need to be developed into productive citizens,” Gadsby-Dolly said.
She focused specifically on girls in schools as well, saying they have been just as guilty of bad behaviour as the boys. Soon, she said the Military-Led Academic Training Programme will also be open to girls.
“We are recognising more and more that our young ladies are getting involved in the negative behaviours that formerly, there was a multitude of young men. Our young ladies are now getting involved in that same behaviour. So we are looking forward to MILAT for girls,” the minister said.
She said her ministry has asked the TTPS to patrol at 17 schools around the country, especially after school to prevent loitering and to get students home. She said information on students who are at risk for expulsion, and those who have been expelled is sent to the Ministry of National Security, Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Youth Development so that they can intervene.