Trinidad: Schoolgirls smoking ganga in viral video will pay the consequences, says Education minister

Trinidad & Tobago Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter An­tho­ny Gar­cia

(Trinidad Guardian) 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.

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