EDUCATION Ministry Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly expressed her support for an initiative which will see male students who repeatedly commit infractions in school face compulsory enrolment into the Military Led Academic Training (Milat) programme.
In a statement on Thursday, the Education Ministry said this course of action is among several strategies in the revised national school discipline matrix, approved for implementation in all schools from the 2022/2023 academic year.
In her contribution to the budget debate in the House of Representatives on Friday, Gadsby-Dolly said the objective of this initiative is to help "students, repeat offenders, students who need support and students who are crying out for (help)."
The ministry's students support services division is unable to handle some of these cases.
"They (students) need more support. The need an immersive environment. They need to transform."
Gadsby-Dolly said Milat has a track record of success in this area.
"The intention is when we have offenders in the secondary school system. Students who just can't help themselves, getting into trouble, we want to offer that support. We want to wrap the arms of love around our students."
She added, "We want them to do better. We are not giving up on them.We have to put them into the space that is already established that can help them."
Gadsby-Dolly said the ministry has a budget of $50 million for remedial education and 26 secondary schools have been identified where some students need remedial education.
She added this programme will be expanded to 25 to 30 primary schools whose students feed directly into these secondary schools.
"That is critical because before the students end up in a situation where they have to go through remedial efforts, we want to address the issues."
To deal with secondary school students who did not acquire fundamental literacy and numeracy skills while they were in primary school, Gadsby-Dolly said, "At the Form Two level, we are going to institute the Lower Proficiency Secondary Examination. A different name but the same thing that would have been called the 'primary school leaving'."
She recalled that when primary school students did not achieve basic literacy, numeracy skill in standard five, they were given two years to do this when they enrolled in secondary school."
"What is happening and what has been happening is that these students are just leaving the secondary school system with nothing. No qualifications to develop themselves. Unprepared to develop their country and to contribute to the development of TT.
Gadsby-Dolly also a policy about teaching patriotism in schools is being developed and will be brought to Cabinet for consideration in due course.
Noting that TT has an aged primary and secondary school infrastructure, Gadsby-Dolly said, "The time has come for us to sink some capital expenditure into school repairs."
There is an estimated $150 million allocated in the budget for school repairs. Gadsby-Dolly promised to seek additional funding for school repairs in the mid-year review next May.