Education Minister Anthony Garcia yesterday scolded a group of schoolgirls who were recorded smoking marijuana in their school uniforms, saying it is illegal and “you will have to pay the consequences for your actions.”
He also said that the children have disappointed their parents, “Their parents may be hanging their heads in shame.”
Garcia, who spoke to Guardian Media, was making reference to a video that went viral on social media earlier this week that showed the school girls clad in their uniforms, believed to be enrolled in a secondary school located in west Trinidad.
The girls were seen holding what seems to be handmade rolls, also known as “spliffs” or marijuana cigarettes.
They were actually seen smoking the joint and blowing out the smoke, even at time commenting on their actions. Garcia said the video was brought to his attention and added that he has since asked for a full report.
“I have asked the school principal, through the school supervisor, to provide a report, whilst I can’t make a pronouncement on that unless I have the evidence and I have asked for the evidence.”
“However, it is very disconcerting and worrying when I see students, more so, girls blowing smoke, whether it be cigarettes or marijuana, which the marijuana is unlawful and when they do things like that it can have a lasting effect on their development,” Garcia said.
“These children must know that what they have done is illegal and they showed no concern about their future. I am sure their parents are hanging their heads in shame for what their daughters are doing,” he added.
Garcia has assured that not only the girls will be punished but will also get the necessary help, advice and counselling from officials at the ministry’s Student Support Services.
“We will be seeking to rehabilitate but schools have rules and they are to obey. Anyone found disobeying then there are consequences for their actions,” he said.Yesterday, Garcia toured several schools that take care of children with special needs through the Port-of-Spain district, including Goodwill Industries at Fitzblackman Drive.
Garcia disclosed that there are 27 schools in total, 14 of which is fully owned by the Government. The remaining 13, Garcia said are privately owned but Government assisted.
Garcia said two major issues surfaced during his tour, which are lack of funding and in one particular school that’s run by a Board, he said it has been identified that there are five vacancies.
“We have decided that this year we will pay particular attention to the children with special needs and will do everything possible to ensure that their needs are met and they are afforded quality education,” Garcia said.
“With that being said it was pointed out by many principals of lack of funding which we will address so that the ministry can reach its mandate in providing quality education and access to quality education with respect to infrastructure and funding.
“We will also make sure that vacancies are filled,” he added.
- by Rhondor Dowlat