As the Department of Education grapples with school violence, Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said it was important agencies pay greater attention to girls and other students needing special mentoring.
A multifaceted intergovernmental approach could solve this problem.
She was speaking at a forum on Friday at MIC, Macoya, to showcase the impact of the military-run academic training program (Milat) on young men,
Gadsby-Dolly lamented recent school fights involving girls, saying this program could be an ideal part of the solution.
She said the country was facing a “disintegration of the moral fabric of our society” and that if it is allowed to develop, the country will pay a heavy price.
Impressed by the transformative testimonies of Milat graduates who admitted to having literacy and behavioral issues before joining the programme, Gadsby-Dolly turned to Minister of Youth Development and National Services Foster Cummings and the National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds, asking them, “Can we have more Milat? Can we also have Milat for girls?
“If we’re going to keep this country on an upward trajectory, we need to have more people coming from despair to hope, from underachievers to achievers who are proud of themselves. This is the kind of restoration we need for so many young people who are scattered among our school population.
Gadsby-Dolly said that while she accepts that not all children who go through the education system can do well, she is sure that alternatives like Milat can meet the needs that the ministry has been unable to meet, “for those who need more support, those who need more guidance and mentorship.
“We need our children to find inspiration. We know they need an environment where they can feel hope. So Minister (Cummings), I come with the strength of these students who are still repeatedly suspended, repeatedly out of their classes, repeatedly on extended expulsion.”
She said there are about 500 students who are repeatedly suspended.
“Expulsion and suspension are not the results we want for our children. If our children need support (which can be provided outside of school), there needs to be an outlet to ensure we get that guidance and mentorship. A network must unfold around them. “Therefore, the safety net provided by Milat, we need to expand, because more of our young people, boys and girls, need this level of care.”