THE Government was accused of focusing on “prisons for children”, rather than schools, in a statement by Opposition Senator Khadijah Ameen on Friday following the day’s Senate debate on the Miscellaneous Provisions (Supreme Court of Judicature and Children) Bill.
“The People’s National Movement’s (PNM’s) approach to governance appears to be to close schools and open ‘prisons for children,’” she alleged.
She said 25 primary and secondary schools are now shut across TT, and the Government has not completed work on 72 educational institutions. Further, many sport, youth development, and technical/vocational programmes have been terminated, Ameen added.
Athletes are being denied funding even when they manage to secure places to represent Trinidad and Tobago at regional and international sporting events.
“This combination leaves many young people vulnerable to crime, criminality and gang activity.
Children whose parents have no choice to leave them unsupervised because their schools are closed are particularly vulnerable to getting into mischief or criminal activity.”
Despite parents trying to keep children occupied, they often lag in their schooling and preparation for exams.
She said that instead of alleviating this situation, Government brought legislation to place the management of children rehabilitation centres under the Commissioner of Prisons, in essence establishing more prisons for children.
“‘When you open the door of a school, you close the door to a prison’ is a well known quote from Victor Hugo that sadly the PNM is managing to do the absolute opposite of,” Ameen hit.
“I strongly condemn this move as retrograde and damaging to the future of our nation’s children.”