Minister: State sending expelled students to Milat is legal

Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly -
Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly -

EDUCATION Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said the mandatory policy to send students who have been expelled from school for bad behaviour to the Military Led Academic Training (Milat) programme is in now in effect.

Gadsby-Dolly also indicated that she has legal authority to instruct that these students can be placed in Milat, which falls under the Youth Development and National Service Ministry.

She made these comments while responding to questions in the Senate on Friday.

Gadsby-Dolly announced this policy at a news conference at her ministry's office on St Vincent Street, Port of Spain on Thursday.

Her first hint of this 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."

Asked by Opposition Senator Wade Mark whether the policy was in effect, Gadsby-Dolly replied, "That policy has already been approved by Cabinet and therefore is currently being implemented."

Mark asked if there was stakeholder consultation prior to the implementation of this policy.

Gadsby-Dolly said consultation took place with the school discipline matrix, police, Children's Authority, Youth Development and National Service Ministry, National Parent Teachers Association, her ministry and many other stakeholders.

"This forms part of that policy."

She added that the documents outlining the policy are on the ministry's website for everyone to see.

Independent Senator Hazel Thompson-Ahye asked Gadsby-Dolly if she had legal authority to send expelled students to Milat, which was not under her ministry's jurisdiction.

Gadsby-Dolly said, "By law, students under the age of 16 are required to be enrolled in an educational institution."

She added, "The Education Act provides for the expulsion of students by the minister under circumstances."

Milat, Gadsby-Dolly continued, is a special education institution "and can therefore accommodate the educational continuity of students outside of the mainstream school system."

She said this is the legal framework that underpins "the compulsory enrollment of students under the age of 16 into Milat.

Gadsby-Dolly acknowledged the behavioural challenges of students may hinder their progress in the mainstream school system.

She said, "As far as possible, the Government is committed to giving them every opportunity for transformation so that they can become productive citizens of TT."

Focusing on children over 16 with behavioural challenges, Gadsby-Dolly said, "While they are not required to compulsorily register, the MoE (Ministry of Education) will continue to recommend their registration at Milat and assist in any way possible to allow them to continue their education in that transformative environment."


"Minister: State sending expelled students to Milat is legal"

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