Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 3rd 2016 Contents A5
Thursday, March 3, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Between 25 to 30 El Dorado East Secondary School
students who were allegedly involved in illegal activities,
ranging from gambling, drugs, sex and threatening
teachers, could be removed from classes.
The figure was given yesterday by Education Minister
Anthony Garcia shortly after arriving in Tobago, where
Prime Minister Keith Rowley will hold his second Cabinet
Garcia made the disclosure one day after visiting the
East-based school, where he vowed to take action against
wayward students after learning staff was living in fear,
as the institution had become overrun by illegal activ-
He also instructed the principal to provide him with
a list of all the problematic students.
Yesterday, when questioned if he had obtained that list,
Garcia said no.
Garcia said once the list reached his hands, he would
examine the offences committed by the students.
Asked how many students were likely to be on the list,
Garcia "some say it could be 25...it could be 30. This
matter is in the hands of the director of the school super-
visor so I would contact him today to find out whether
he has been in contact with the principal to get that list.
"Then, we will be able to decide. I can tell you that
one of the things that we plan to do as a matter of urgency
is to get in contact with the parents and guardians of
those students and have a meeting with them to have
control over those students."
Garcia promised action would be taken against them
"as soon as possible."
Last month, the ministry decided to remove from classes
24 students from the Chaguanas West Secondary School
after police were alerted of a planned gun attack at the
Some of the 24 are said to hold criminal records and
others are currently before the courts for criminal activ-
ity.Garcia said the ministry would come to a decision soon
on its next course of action with those students.
"I have been engaging them (Support Students Services
Division) in treating all the students who have problems."
Questioned if school violence will be discussed at the
Cabinet retreat, Garcia was unsure.
"That is the Prime Minister's call. I don't want to pre-
judge anything. As the person who has responsibility for
the education system in the country it must be very wor-
rying to me.
"Therefore, I can use all the resources and information
that I can gather...everything at my disposal to bring to
an end this sorry state of affairs."
Behaviour change consultant, Franklyn Dolly, believes
deviant students should be given psychometric testing
"to know what is happening with them."
He estimated at least five per cent of students in "about
60 to 70 per cent of schools" needed the test.
"If the ministry fails to address the five per cent of
these children the figure would increase.These children
are angry. They can not cope in the system. The only
thing that is helping them to cope is the illegal activities,"
Yesterday, president of the National Parents Teachers
Association Zena Ramatali said the association would
have a closed-door meeting on Saturday to discuss the
issues at the El Dorado East Secondary School.
Several calls to president of T&T Unified Teachers'
Association Devanand Sinanan's cell phone went unan-
Police would support security at
schools by liaising with them on a daily
and weekly basis and officers would also
have a working relationship with prin-
cipals and school deans in areas that
needed that, National Security Minister
Edmund Dillon said yesterday.
He confirmed the situation following
yesterday's Joint Select Committee meeting
Commenting on violence at some
schools, he made it clear that there would
not be any soldier patrols at schools unless
the situation got worse.
"And I don't think we have reached that
stage of escalation," he added.
On security for schools he said: "We
have to go beyond reactive. We have to
get long-term solutions."
He said police would be used for schools
in all jurisdictions and he wanted to see
a police officer providing a school with a
strong determination to treat with delin-
Vehicular patrols by police would also
be done to provide a regular deterrent
presence since Dillon said there were
"external factors" that influenced schools.
"We want to show them we have a pres-
ence there so (police) vehicles will pass
by," he added.
He also said police patrols would be
done around pre-schools, in an unobtru-
sive, friendly way, that would get students
acquainted with police, help them learn
about such institutions and role models.
He said police would not enter such
schools or act aggressively around children
but would demonstrate to students they
could relate to and chat with police and
get to understand the system.
He said one would not want to over-
whelm a school environment with such
excessive security since it would send neg-
ative signals not only to students but to
the international community.
On troubled El Dorado East Secondary
School, Dillon said his ministry was lending
support to the Education Ministry and he
had "thrown out" some thoughts to the
acting Police Commissioner on the issue
and was awaiting feedback.
He declined details of the "thoughts,"
but said the situation involved a collab-
orative effort among Education, National
Security, the National Parent Teachers'
Association (NPTA) and other stakehold-
Children engaged in crim-
inal activities, who are being
put out of schools would not
help the problem, instead, it
will cause more gangs to be
built as the children will be
left running on the streets.
This was a major concern
yesterday highlighted by Spir-
itual Baptist Bishop Barbara
Burke on the escalating crime
and upsurge in deviant school
Referring to the 24 students
of the Chaguanas North Sec-
ondary School who were
removed by the Minister of
Education Anthony Garcia
over a week ago and the
pending removal of more stu-
dents from the El Dorado East
Secondary School, Burke said
there must be the immediate
implementation of pro-
grammes to absorb such chil-
She added: "Satan finds
work for idle hands to do and
we are endeavouring that
when we take the children out
of schools and have them on
the streets. We must keep
"Are we prepared to bring
them in together and put
them into some place where
they will be supervised and
learn something beneficial to
"We know at this adoles-
cent age children get restless.
They tend to do things that
later on in their lives they will
regret. So before we let them
be lost completely, why not
try to harness the good in
them?" Burke asked.
She suggested that Govern-
ment look at a military-type
boot camp initiative which she
says she strongly believes will
instill discipline, order, man-
ners and respect once more.
"If they don't want to call
it military boot camp then call
it social community corps but
we as parents and as church
leaders must be prepared to
allow the children that are
being thrown out of the school
for misbehaviour to be thrown
into a programme of this
nature," Burke said.
The bishop, focusing on
parents and parental guidance,
said parents of deviant chil-
dren should be locked up as
they should be held respon-
sible for the actions of their
She said she agreed to a
parental responsibility legis-
lation, where parents would
have to come to court to
answer for their children's
actions and also "attend the
schools their children attend
so that they can find out from
the principals and teachers
as to what is going on with
their children so they can deal
On the issue of crime,
Burke said the statistics of
crime were alarming and
believed religious organisa-
tions must intervene to restore
the breakdown of family life
and society as a whole.
She said in the near future
she intended to have a major
crime conference geared
towards focusing mainly on
crime hot spots.
El Do East
Burke: Harness good in deviant children
More police patrols for schools---Dillon
Savita Roodalsingh, Standard Five teacher at the Cocorite Government Primary School, examines the Guardian's SEA Practice
Test when representatives of Huawei T&T and Guardian Media Ltd (GML) visited the school yesterday. Jason Deng, general
manager Huawei T&T, third from right, and Avellon Williams, of GML look on. Huawei, a Chinese technology company, recently
signed on as a sponsor to the GML SEA Practice Test. PHOTO: ANDRE ALEXANDER
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