THE EDITOR: At some point, Trinidad’s population must state with a universal outcry that enough is enough. If seeing the story of a ten-year-old boy shot dead on the cover of the daily paper fails to cause outrage, then what will?
Trinidad does not have a database on the ethnicity of these young men who are committing these crimes, but anecdotally it appears they are uneducated young men of African descent. These young men are the products of a failed school system, and currently there is no appetite in Trinidad to hold their teachers and administrators accountable.
Churches, community organisations and the business community have a responsibility to advocate for these children.
Christian churches worship a leader who was born to a single mother and spent his life in marginalised communities. It is in those communities that he developed a philosophy aimed at uplifting the downtrodden.
By working in these communities churches can instil young children with the belief that with the correct choices and hard work, they can become productive members of their communities and that education is the ladder that takes them out of their present environments.
Churches can begin by converting some of their real estate into after-school and weekend centres. These after-school centres can provide homework assistance to students who require academic support and have no one at home to assist them.
A prerequisite for success at the SEA exam is private lessons. How are students whose parents cannot afford to pay for extra lessons be expected to compete with their more affluent peers?
Churches can recruit retired teachers to volunteer to provide lessons to students who need additional tutoring but can’t afford it. Additionally, churches can begin instilling in these youths the values of hard work, self-respect and the belief that they can be successful members of their communities.
Musicians can volunteer to teach the students to sing and can help develop choirs; artists can volunteer to teach art classes; actors can direct and present short student-run plays. Business owners and philanthropists can become participants in the programme by providing both financial and nonfinancial support. They can provide financial support to fund trips to places that will expand the participants’ view of their county, such as Parliament or President’s House.
Saving the next generation of children who reside in low-income communities will require deep, broad and lasting commitments from all Trinidadians. It is time that helping these children moves from rhetoric to action.
CHARLES M HOSTEN
Professor of Chemistry