Student record

Ameen wary of government to distribute scholarships fairly

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St Augustine MP Khadijah Ameen –

On Friday, St Augustine MP Khadijah Ameen in the House of Representatives expressed distrust of the government’s ability to properly select students for scholarships that are now largely intended to replace hundreds national scholarships which no longer exist for higher level studies.

She spoke during continued debate on Naparima MP Rodney Charles’ private member’s motion criticizing the government’s handling of violent crime.

Ameen began by saying that after hearing from Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, all that was heard was “talk, talk, talk. No action”.

Without the government specifying targets and timelines for results, Ameen said, they could not be held accountable.

She complained that under this government the number of students in higher education had decreased.

Ameen expected far less control over scholarships than government scholarships, although she said the government had an “outrageous record” of distributing such aid to the children of friends, family and financiers. of the PNM, apparently referring to scholarships awarded by the then Department of Community Development under the former administration of Patrick Manning.

She said the country could not trust the government to distribute scholarships now on the basis of who it believed needed them most. She saw the new proposal as “a new form of PNM heritage”, rather than a fair, merit-based system for choosing beneficiaries.

Ameen said nothing the government says has made people feel safer from crime.

She said placing police officers outside schools was not a sign of success, but a failure.

The MP said that while the government continued to underfund funding for guidance counsellors, it was talking about mediation and restorative justice, which she dismissed as “just talking”.

Ameen said the crime statistics supported the opposition’s position, not the government’s. Data showed TT had one of the highest homicide rates in the region, indicating a failure of this government, she said. Ameen lamented the murders of 41 women in incidents of domestic violence in 2020. She also said that of 745 people who went missing that year, some 416 were women.

She complained that the Government had dissolved the Ministry of Gender Equality and reduced it to a department in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Ameen didn’t want to hear the government blaming women with naïve suggestions such as what clothes not to wear. “There must be a fundamental change in the approach to women.” She lamented a report which found that out of 1,796 public closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras placed across the country, some 733 were not fully functional.

Recalling the plight of a typical low-income woman who had no choice but to face the risks of taking an unlicensed PH car (private car acting as a road taxi), she said the government must be realistic about personal safety. “You have to get real.”