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But seriously, Crime 2005
Posted: Friday, May 20, 2005

By Philip Ayoung-Chee FRCS

But seriously, "it is normal" to "wait until" "it is exaggerated", but "do not blame" me.

When there is violence in schools, we hear that "it is normal" at this time. Imagine students setting fires within the school buildings, to destroy the buildings. Guards being assaulted by students. Police Post stationed outside the gates of a school. In one case, examination materials for CXC assessments were destroyed. But "it is normal". And surely, violence in schools is on the decrease.

A Minister of Government stated that he was not too concerned about the crime levels but that we should "wait until" the levels reach that of New York. Has it reached this level? Approximately 127 murders in 136 days?

Another Minister of Government emphatically states that the levels of crime are being "exaggerated". Whilst murders and robberies and kidnapping are on the increase, it is only the total number of all criminal reports that are decreasing. Or so they say!! The Minister openly stated that all other arms of National Security were given low priority whilst crime was given preference. Such priority has obviously failed. Hence the Minister and Ministry of National Security has failed.

And now officials are now saying "do not blame" the Police Service for the rising levels of crime. Who therefore are we to blame? Do the police actually behave in a proactive manner? Maybe the Police Officers at Mon Repos Police Station should account for their highly recommended 'lack of' response to my motor vehicle accident report in October 2004!! A drunk driver who swerved into my vehicle twice was identified by name, address and vehicle number. The officer was only concerned about replacing a broken mirror, not the lives of my parents and family had the car been pushed off the road. Another drunk driver remains on the road. Or maybe a report of 'hit and run' would have received more attention.

And what about the Center of Criminal Sciences and Criminology of the University of the West Indies? This was considered to be so important that a Professor was appointed. Have they investigated the cause of the rising crime that started in the early 90's? Do they have any solution? Why it is only within the last month or two that the Professor admitted that crime is now a problem? Why do we have to hire foreign experts to offer solutions? Is this a statement of lack of confidence in this department of the University of the West Indies? Will their only solution of conjugal visits for prisoners be the answer? Is this professorship of any value to UWI?

The crime and criminals today has their roots in 1972 when the Junior Secondary schools were started. These were students who needed more guidance in basic subjects of an academic nature and more exposure to technical and vocational subjects. Instead they got neither. Three years initially at Junior Secondary and later two years in Senior Secondary were not enough to fully analyse and hence create a path for these students. The temporary 'shift' system still exists today, temporary after over thirty years. The 'rampaging' students of the millennium are thus children of these misguided students of the failed 'temporary' system over the last thirty years, who are now the parents that received no guidance after Common Entrance for the last thirty years.

The system of Junior and Senior Secondary Schools should be immediately abolished and replaced by six-year schools. These lower rated schools should have syllabus changes over six years rather than the usual five years. The subjects should be concentrated around the basic English, Mathematics and Social Sciences/Studies and should be more orientated around technical and vocational subjects. Emphasis around academic subjects has failed and will continue to fail.

At this time, experts are stating that there is a lack of skilled labour within T&T. This is a fault of the government. They failed via the education system. They failed via the state ownership of the multi-national companies, by discontinuing the highly acclaimed apprenticeship programmes, once these companies became state owned. This was highlighted by the dilapidated condition of the John Donaldson Technical Institute. Here is the institution that is supposed to tutor students into aspects of various skills but who could not use those same skills to upgrade and upkeep their institution. Why is it not possible for schools with workshops to self maintain themselves?

Finally we must all be patriotic. We must all contribute in some form and fashion. As a Doctor, I chose not to remain silent on the deteriorating standards of public health-care. The public has told me emphatically that I should 'shut up' on a milder scale. Stronger comments are not to be mentioned. But I have ignored such comments, including those from a Minister of Government. If only other persons in other spheres of life demand change and improvement, eventually we shall have a chorus and then a nation demanding change and improvement. Sadly, it is a one man show in the solitary sphere of health as everyone else seeks the illusion of protection in partisan views, partisan comments and partisan behaviour. The present political administration is never at fault, the fault is the responsibility of the previous political administration.

But seriously, these comments from high officials show neither a level head nor common sense.

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