Student among those killed by police in Laventille

One of the five people killed in Laventille was a Form Four student and Minister in the Ministry of Education, Dr Lovell Francis says discussions are underway to safeguard children who may be caught in the crossfire of criminals.

Speaking to reporters at a national consultation on education, held at Naparima College in San Fernando on Friday morning, Francis said students are losing their lives because they were no longer being protected by society.

He agreed that students in crime hotspots were finding it difficult to get to school. Asked what will be done by the government to safeguard pupils, Francis said, " We would work that out with the Ministry of

National Security and the Police Commissioner. We are already having discussions to make the situation better. "

Francis said long ago children were not included in adult business.

"It seems we have lost that value along the way. We can get Police to help in these areas in the so-called hot spots and we can ramp up some of the social programmes we have here, " Francis said.

He added, " Apart from that,  we have to change the culture, perception and attitude of our people as it relates to children. Children used to be spared from engaging in adult business but now they are caught in the crossfire. This  says where we are headed in the society and where we have to come back to."

Asked whether the Ministry will make special shuttles available and additional security to escort citizens to and from school, Francis said, "These are operational issues that can be sorted out."

He said the consultation held yesterday was indicative of the will of the government to change the educational system to make it more progressive.

Francis said part of the transformation was to expand the technical vocational subjects. He said traditionally this was seen as the "duncy" subjects even though skilled tradesmen of TT were seen as professionals abroad.

Asked how Fridays consultation was different to others, Francis said it all came down to will.

Saying the Ministry had the will to change how education is delivered in TT, Francis said students with special needs and abilities must not be left behind.

"We have not done enough where special education is concerned. We are doing tremendous work but a lot more needs to be done. There are students who need special attention. We have to fix infrastructure, " Francis added.

He noted that TT was in a watershed period where there could no longer be reliance on oil, gas, cocoa or sugar. He said the direction that the country goes is dependent on the kind of citizen TT produces.

He also said that educational reformation was central to that goal.

- by Radhica De Silva

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