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Senate President on drop out rate: Students finding school meaningless
“A large number of families in T&T are in crisis.” So said Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith as he delivered the feature address at the Rapidfire Kidz Foundation annual gala dinner, held at Paria Suites ballroom on Saturday night. Commenting on the high level of school dropouts, Hamel-Smith said students were finding school to be meaningless.
“Children are experiencing a disconnection with what they are taught in school and what they experience. They no longer find school meaningful. We need to transform our schools. How do we make the curriculum meaningful?” Hamel-Smith asked. He suggested that the school curriculum be remodelled to suit the interests of pupils.
“It is up to us to give kids the right tools so they can become the best they can be,” Hamel-Smith said. He also said families must be strengthened and parents must take a proactive role in providing for their children.
“There has been a frightening upsurge in the numbers of deaths of our infants—abuse, violence, drugs and carelessness. We need to go back to the most fundamental building block of society—the family,” Hamel-Smith said. He added, “ Effective parenting is necessary as it promotes physical, psychological and spiritual well being of our children. Parents are the childrens’ role models. When children feel loved and respected in families, they have confidence to make independent positions. Parents must have expectations of their children consistent with their abilities.”
Hamel-Smith said while government has an obligation to provide greater protection for children, government could not do it alone. “I encourage you to pledge to make a difference in a child’s life no matter how small,” Hamel-Smith said. President Kevin Ratiram also urged citizens to change their mindset and have empathy for the children in crime hotspots.
“When we look at the young men engaged in drug wars, what went wrong? We are quick to assume that the children of Sealots , Morvant and Laventille are criminals. We have to appreciate all children no matter where they come from,” Ratiram said. Ratiram said since the Foundation was launched two years ago, hundreds of children have benefitted. Under the Eyes Right project, 1,000 children from several primary schools across the country received free vision testing and eye glasses.