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Safety first for students this Carnival, says MoE

Principals have been advised to be mindful of the performers they invite to schools as part of the pre-Carnival activities.

“Just be careful who you invite,” Education Minister Anthony Garcia said as he addressed the launch of the Ministry’s ‘Schools’ Carnival Safety and Awareness Programme 2018’ on January 16 at the Naparima College, San Fernando.

He said principals must ensure that the performers whom they invited, in “whatever they say and whatever they do, will be aligned to the curriculum and positive values that you want to inculcate into our students”.

His comments were made in the context of the major objectives of the programme: safety of students, and awareness of all stakeholders. Garcia told students who participate in Carnival to be aware of their responsibility for their personal safety.

He recalled as a primary school student, he received a list of “dos and don’ts” on Carnival Friday, adding that the ministry’s programme begins weeks before Carnival. “This is simply to ensure that our students in particular understand exactly what their responsibility is,” he said.

Garcia informed the students he would like all of them in attendance at class on Ash Wednesday. He observed the some seem to think the days after Carnival are not school days. “They are in fact school days however, when we examine the reports that come to us from the various schools we notice a large number of our students are absent while on the other hand most of the teachers are out at school in an effort to ensure learning continues to take place.”

He appealed to students to attend their classes as usual on Ash Wednesday and the rest of the week. Garcia said through absenteeism they are depriving themselves of an education, which is their right.

Garcia called for parents to put things in place to ensure the safety of their children and to take care of themselves. He said Carnival was part of the culture and should be part of the teaching especially in Social Studies for cultural traditions to be maintained.

Although some schools have said there was a downturn of Carnival he said it is the responsibility of educators to ensure it is kept alive. Garcia said this was the reason the ministry was supporting Carnival activities in schools.

A release from the ministry stated as part of the programme, lesson plans on safety tips, drug and alcohol abuse and sexual health were disseminated to schools.

The Student Support Services Division is disseminating Carnival safety information sessions and programmes throughout primary and secondary schools. Principals have been advised to use the various aspects of school life to reinforce the safety tips that would be delivered in the classrooms.

The event was attended by principals and students of 76 secondary schools and 294 primary schools. Other stakeholders in attendance to support the initiative were President of Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association, (TTUTA) Lynsley Doodhai, representatives from the National Parent Teachers Association (NPTA), the National Primary School Principals Association (NAPSPA), the Community Police, Ministry of Health and Childline among others. – LPG