Military programme to be extended to girls

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Youth Development and National Service Minister Foster Cummings – Photo by Sureash Cholai

Minister of Youth Development and National Service Foster Cummings has committed to launching an arm of the Military Led Academic Training (Milat) programme for young women.

The programme was established out of a need for special attention for young men between 16 and 20 in 2007.

The two-year programme aims to promote character development, and positively influence at-risk young men into becoming responsible, disciplined and well-adjusted adults, ultimately reducing crime and criminal activities.

At a forum on Friday at MIC, Macoya, hosted to showcase the impact of the Military Milat, Cummings said, “We are committed to providing equitable access and safe resident and non-residential spaces that offer training opportunities to our young men and women.

“We recognise for our country to achieve an inclusive, sustainable, equitable future, young men and women need the same access. I can say we will, very soon, work towards launching the female Milat programme. With this move, we are bridging the gender gap, ensuring our young women are educated and equipped for economic participation and empowerment.”

He gave the commitment after Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly asked for help with with an upsurge of school violence among girls.

Cummings said Milat’s success has given the country’s young men hope of a promising future, and girls will have a chance to benefit from opportunities offered by the programme.

“We support the expansion of the programme and we will work towards doing that. We support the inclusion of young women in a programme like Milat, and we will work towards a whole-of-government approach to make sure we can provide opportunities for young people.”

He also spoke of plans to establish non-residential centres throughout the country, and complete ongoing work at two national service complexes – one in Mausica, which is expected to facilitate the expansion of Milat.

This move is to bring vocational training opportunities closer to young people in their respective communities.

Over 800 young men have graduated from the programme thus far and after its expansion, up to 250 participants would be able to register for a cycle.

Cummings also spoke of the ongoing repurposing of the Petrotrin Beach Camp Club facility at Palo Seco Village to accommodate Milat and two other youth programmes, as well as a transition home for young men and women.