FILE PHOTO – Members of MILAT – SUREASH CHOLAI
THE Military Led Academic Training (Milat) programme can play a critical role in keeping young people out of a life of crime.
National security minister Tiffanie Greenaway expressed this view during the sitting of the 20th National Youth Parliament at the Red House, Port of Spain on Monday.
Responding to questions from the opposition, Greenaway said government was treating crime as a public-health issue.
She said that involved a collaborative approach between several stakeholders such as government ministries, police and the Tobago House of Assembly to deal with crime in a holistic manner.
Greenaway identified Milat as an important initiative which could help young people who could not complete their education within the school system, to do so and not fall prey to criminals.
“The issue is to turn young people away from a life of crime.”
Responding to questions from the Opposition in the Senate on November 24, Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said the mandatory policy to send students who have been expelled from school for bad behaviour to the Milat programme was now in effect.
Gadsby-Dolly also indicated that she had legal authority to instruct that those students be placed in Milat, which falls under the Youth Development and National Service Ministry.
Her first hint of the policy being a strategy used by the ministry to curb violence in schools, came during her contribution to the budget debate in the House of Representatives on October 11.
“The time may have come for Trinidad and Tobago to enter into national discussion about students who are misbehaving at school, despite the best efforts of the ministry to change their behavior, to be entered into mandatory national service so they can be given the support they need to be developed into productive citizens.”
Later in Monday’s Youth Parliament sitting, prime minister Sadah Bandoo, responding to other opposition questions, said government also provided ample opportunities for young people to become involved in decision-making, cultural and artistic activities.
Bandoo highlighted the TT Youth Council as one of 15 organisations that trained young people in decision-making.
She said the ministries of education and youth devellopment had collaborated on artistic and cultural initiatives which many youn people had benefitted from.