The number of school dropouts in Tobago may be a contributing factor in the island's rising crime rate, says Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, who plans to combat the statistics with a slew of community programs.
"One of the challenges we have emanating from our education sector is the number of dropouts that we have to deal with," Charles said.
"There are students 13 and 14 years old who cannot recite the alphabet... How do you think they will capture the attention of those they wish to impress?"
During a public session on the National Crime Prevention Program (NCPP), the chief secretary said that in order to combat crime, various means of prevention should be considered.
"Crime is multi-faceted, so the approach to crime must be multifaceted, otherwise we will be in trouble and at this point in time we appear to be losing our war on crime, notwithstanding some of the intervention that directly comes out of the Ministry of National Security," Charles said.
Among his proposals is sending criminologists into the communities with the highest crime rates to train government and Tobago House of Assembly (THA) personnel in identifying potential degenerates and creating appropriate youth programs.
"What we hope to establish is empowered communities, communities taking action by seeing the deviant young person, recognizing him and starting to put priorities in place to take care of him," Charles said.
Sports Minister Shamfa Cudjoe supported the initiative, saying: "It's a low-hanging fruit and for this programme to have the level of success it is expected to have, we must identify the low-hanging fruit."