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Trinidad and Tobago

ROLLING OUT THE WORKBOOK

Having created the Workbooks, trained the first set of Regional trainers, and sensitised the first set of Regional Corporations it now remained to take the project directly to the Student Councils and Schools themselves. The Project Implementation began in Chaguanas at ASJA Girls; Chaguanas North and Chaguanas South Secondaries. Another phase involved Upper Level Educational Institute and Saraswati Girls Hindu College. 

The project then continued in 2 other regions: the San Jaun/ Barataria Regional Coroporation with the following schools- Success Laventille; St Georges College; and Barataria South; and the Tunapuna/ Piarco Regional Corporation. The schools there were: El Dorado East; El Dorado West; and Bon Air High School. 

The first part of the workbook training was conducted by Sandra Singh and Cathy Blackbernn who rolled out the Local Government, Gender Sensitivity, and Communications modules. Students would eventually learn how to do a range of practical things like write letters to their representative and plan and market a cultural exposition of their own conception. 

“During my training session I was shown different Responsibilities of Local Government and asked to think of a Negative side and Positive side to these Responsibilities *Cleaning of Cesspits and Septic Tanks* Negative side: Workers might not have proper equipment to deal with the putrid smell of these Cesspits and Septic Tanks | Positive side The Cesspits and Septic Tanks will be much cleaner afterward. I'm a student at Bon Air Secondary, 13 years of age and so far enjoying this program.” Andrea Silva

Students learn to write letter to their Councillors as well as engage in deliberations about personal, school, and communal health. 

Students learn to critically analyse Gender issues in their personal lives and in society at large.

STUDENT TESTIMONIALS

"Today I learned who my Councilor is, and what they are in charge of doing."

"Local Government is important to the community."

"I learned a lot today about Local Government. I understand the circumstances they have to go through on a daily basis, but I think some of them are excuses."

"Local Government needs to improve on their services."

"I gained knowledge about Local Government. I noted why some things are not done because of their budgets."

"I learned that Local Government has a lot more to do than I thought."

"It was cool to learn about the Government."

"I find that it was very informative."

"I learned that Local Government is in charge of most things and has a very important job. Today I also had a wonderful day because I like how the groups work together and give different sides of presentations."

"I found Local Government is a great service and they shall continue."

"Today was very educational and I learned stuff that I didn't know before and I also learned who is the Councillor for my community."

"I think that the session was good because I learned more about Local Government and ... the role and functions they are set. I will notice more about what should be done in the community."

"I learned that our Local Government play an important role in our community that we don't know of but it can also be updated and maintained."

THE MOCK COUNCIL DEBATE

Success Laventille accounted for themselves brilliantly with their Mock Council Debate. They quickly grasped the protocols and were articulate with a range of innovative strategies. The ‘Youth Democracy’ workshops had a particular significance for the Success Laventille students, principal, and school as the school had just sustained the trauma of having 2 of their gifted students pulled out of a car and murdered. The workshops helped the young people process some of the complexity of their situation and engage solutions.

Above Students, Teachers, and CALGA reps arrive at El Dorado East Secondary who hosted the Mock Council Debate for the Tunapuna/Piarco region 

The Mock Debate between El Dorado East and Bon Air High School was very dynamic. As with all debates we did not give the schools the format and Council protocols from before- they got it on the spot. We know that in many instances teachers will over-coach students in what to say using normal Debating Rules. By giving the students the rules on the day with the insistence that every single student speak it allowed the students to free themselves from prepared scripts and to think originally and become confident in their own opinions. It also helped them to actually listen to their opponents and be critical in their analysis and response. 

You could have seen the increased confidence in all students in their own opinions as the debate wore on… The change in their demeanour was so marked that the school’s principal (in red shirt) remarked on it and is interested in rolling out the programme on an expanded scale for the rest of the school as a way to engage student empowerment. 

These are images from the Hall of Fame display for the San Juan/ Barataria Region. On consultation with the Councillor it was discovered that the Corporation was having an Anti-Crime March on that same day from the square we wanted to hold the exhibition at (the Croissere) to the main square in the capital city Port of Spain on the Brian Lara Promenade. The decision was made to provide booth space on the Promenade for a national audience to engage the work of the school. Dozens of people engaged the exhibition in an event which it was thematically suited for. The display showed the simple power of a Hall of Fame in engaging community interest and discussion…