The programme will be based on El Sistema, a publicly financed voluntary sector music education programme in Venezuela and will be tailored to provide youths with an alternative to crime.
Eleazar Jos? Yeg?ez, regional coordinator of El Sistema in Sucre State; Jesus Beltran Acosta, director of Cariaco’s Orquestra; musician Llelina Poryillo and interpreter Mildred Yeg?ez- Francois were on hand to provide the ministry with ideas and direction.
Ramadharsingh said he saw a model of this programme in Colombia where there were high levels of poverty but music was used to combat crime and other social ills in those communities. He was particularly impressed that no one was turned away because of lack of finances or on the grounds of proficiency.
“In the field of social services we are well placed to see the relationship between poverty and crime, and in certain instances, violence in communities. Therefore, we too in this ministry want to play our role in correcting the social ills in the society and reversing many of the negative activities that take place in our communities,” said Ramadharsingh.
Ramadharsingh recognised that sports, arts and music are “critical partnership tools in combatting social ills, crime and sporadic instances of violence.” He noted that several Ministries including the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism and Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, Ministry of Education will have to collaborate to make the project a success. He said the Ministry of National Security, for example, will hopefully provide information on areas to target — areas where youths are at risk and the programme will have the most impact.
According to Ramadharsingh, the project will have different models for different communities. He said that his ministry will have to go into the communities and examine the nature of the communities — how they interact with each other, socio-economic conditions, cultural leanings, etc — in order to develop these models.
“I see myself as a social partner and the Ministry (of the People and Social Development) as one of the instruments of delivery,” said Ramadharsingh. “The ministry will play a critical role in assisting the process. We are determined, given the mandate of the Prime Minister to deliver, to engage ourselves in activity that will benefit the people of Trinidad and Tobago.”
In addition to ministries, Ramadharsingh intends to partner with Dr Bishop and other musicians to provide facilitators, instruments and equipment to sustain the programme, giving citizens of TT an opportunity to participate in social change.
He hopes the programme will be underway in late January.