T&T Education Ministry to hire 120 pan instructors to combat violence
Trinidad's Education Minister Anthony Garcia
Trinidad and Tobago, like Barbados, is grappling with the issue of violence amongst teens and youth, even at schools.
As such, Trinidad's Education Minister Anthony Garcia is hopeful that some of the negative feelings students experience which contribute to their disruptive behaviour, will be eliminated through steelpan music.
Garcia expressed this as he delivered the feature address at the launch of the Ministry's Music Education Expansion Initiative - Pan in All Schools Project - at the Arima New Government Primary School on Wednesday.
Speaking to staff and students, he shared that he recently read a story about a pupil who told his class he felt lonely which caused him to be restless. This is one of the things he hopes will be pacified through the programme.
"Very few of us recognize that among our students, there are so many things that affect them and loneliness is one that has been brought full-scale to the front burner. We are hoping again through this music programme in our schools and in particular, through the pan, that we are going to eradicate some of these negative feelings. My pledge is that in every school in Trinidad and Tobago beginning at the ECC [Early Childhood Care] Centre right on to our tertiary education system, there is the presence of our national instrument; there is the presence of our steel pan."
Meanwhile, the Minister says participants of a focus group held two weeks ago, stressed that not enough was being done to assist children with special needs. He says they too, will benefit.
"Arising out of these talks, we are going to develop a template that will assist all our students with special education needs. One of the things, of which I am very happy, is the fact that the steelpan will be part of that initiative. So even in our schools that cater for children with special needs, they will be introduced to the steelpan. We will ensure that no child is left behind."
He adds that to this end, 120 music tutors will be hired to add to the existing 250 in the system. Teachers will also receive special training in music.
"I want to assure you that we are going to employ a number of teachers, a number of facilitators, a number of instructors throughout our education system so that they will be able to assist our students in the development of music right through the system. Towards this end, as a first initiative, 120 music instructors will be assigned to schools throughout the primary and secondary sector."
Noting that students engaged in extra-curricular activities ultimately reduces incidents of disciplinary problems, he says he hopes it will only be lowered.
"Although the statistics will tell us that amongst our 700 schools in Trinidad and Tobago, the incidents of violence and indiscipline resides only in about one percent of those schools, we want to make sure that we cut this down further. So that indiscipline and violence if not completely eradicated from our schools but will be on the back burner. "
He further gave a commitment to the principal of the Arima New Government Primary School to attend to the problems he raised at the conference.