“This will be used as a template for schools in other areas because Laventille is not the only area with problems,” he told Sunday Newsday.
Garcia said he was excited about the ground-breaking project, which focuses on improving literacy and numeracy skills of students, infrastructural upgrades to schools, increased safety and security and enhancing parenting skills.
Some 25 schools have been targeted for the project, which was launched by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, last Saturday, at the Success/Laventille Secondary School.
Garcia revealed that the management team to guide the initiative has been broken up into two committees, which he called a “soft” committee and a “hard” committee.
The “soft” committee, he said, comprises officials from the Ministry of Education.
“This committee will deal with curriculum issues and it is being co-ordinated by a Schools Supervisor 111,” Garcia said.
The minister said the “hard” committee involved community stakeholders, parents and activists.
“There has to be buyin by the community for this programme to be effective,” he said, adding that meetings of both committees have been ongoing.
The minister said plans were also on stream to host a mass rally for the students of the participating schools after the passage of the Budget.
“We are looking tentatively at the Grand Stand of the Queen’s Park Savannah and we will have the activists and officials playing their part,” he said.
Asked to elaborate on the Prime Minister’s statement that teachers at the school will be given special consideration, Garcia said apart from serious crime and a generally low performance portfolio, many of them also had to contend with violent, delinquent youths.
“So, there is a tremendous burden placed on teachers and many of them do not have the support of parents,” he said.
“What we have also found is that teachers who have been appointed to schools in Laventille often apply to be transferred out of the area.” When contacted, former Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh said the People’s Partnership had adopted a nationalistic approach to education, focusing on the ministry’s watchwords of accessibility, equity and quality.
He said the PNM Government focus on Laventille was laudable, attention should also be placed in low-performing schools in Tobago and the St Patrick Educational Divisions.
“These divisions also need to be given immediate attention,” Gopeesingh said.
LAVENTILLE PRIMARY SCHOOLS
Laventille Boys’ Government
Laventille Girls’ Government
Old Lady of Laventille RC
Rose Hill RC
Bethlehem Boys’ RC
Bethlehem Girls’ RC
St Hilda’s Government
St Barbs Government
Lower Morvant Government
Morvant New Government
St Dominic’s RC
St Phillips Govt
Excel Beetham Estate
Escallier St Jerome AC
Gloster Hodge Moravian
LAVENTILLE SECONDARY SCHOOLS
Success Laventille Secondary
Morvant Laventille Secondary
Russell Latapy Secondary
South East PoS Secondary