OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE UNITED NATIONAL CONGRESS, The Official Opposition In The Republic Of Trinidad And Tobago.

Kamla: Going To School In T&T Is Risky Business

THE Government must urgently call on the Police Commissioner and head of the Defence Force to begin police and army patrols near the nation’s schools to keep children safe, says Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

Speaking at the United National Congress (UNC) meeting at Preysal Secondary School on Monday, Persad-Bissessar said that going to school in Trinidad and Tobago has become ‘risky business’, and the lives of children, teachers, principals, staff members and even parents are in danger as crime and violence continue to plague the country.

‘In T& T, a child going to school is now in danger of being bullied by fellow students, beaten viciously, taxed their lunch money, or even forced and threatened to join gangs by their fellow students,’ she said.

Persad-Bissessar said the country is grappling with school violence and crimes occurring both within and outside schools.

‘In the past two months, we have been inundated with headlines from the daily newspapers and media of children being beaten to the point of hospitalisation by their fellow students, of children being traumatised by all the gunfire and murders taking place outside their schools in broad daylight while they learn,’ she said.

Persad-Bissessar further criticised the Government for its failure to implement any policy or programme to halt or reduce school violence.

In fact, she said there is empirical evidence to show that over the years, the PNM (People’s National Movement) has been ‘defunding’ education, which leaves children and youths to suffer.

Persad-Bissessar provided data to show that under her Government in 2015, some 59,000-plus students received GATE (Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses) assistance, while under the PNM, in 2023, only 20,488 people received assistance.

She said under the Helping You Prepare for Employment (HYPE), some 771 trainees were enrolled in 2015, while in 2023, under the PNM, 208 trainees were enrolled. She said under the Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) in 2015, a total of 2,233 students received loans, and by 2023, only 440 loans were approved.

Persad-Bissessar said in the Multi Sector Skills Training Programme (MUST), some 3,219 were registered in 2015, and under the PNM, in 2024, there are 190 trainees.

The former prime minister vowed that a UNC government will address these issues and ensure that the education sector is properly funded and there are opportunities for the youth.

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