On Saturday 25th March 2017 the Trinidad and Tobago Cadet Force welcomed thirty-seven (37) girls to its ranks at at ASJA Girls’ College (Charlieville), marking its first all-female unit at an Islamic girl school.
At the same time, twenty-six boys of the neighboring ASJA Boys’ College (Charlieville) were also welcomed into the TTCF.
The thirty-seven (37) girls and twenty-six (26) boys participated in a joint investiture ceremony and parade which was commanded by Sgt. Triston Ramrattan. The event marked the end of their recruit training, and welcomed the sixty-three young people into the Cadet Force family.
Present at the ceremony, Honourable Glenda Jennings-Smith, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of National Security expressed her jubilation at seeing the young ladies take their places among their male counterparts.
This ceremony marks a new stage in the process of introduction of the Cadet Force to the ASJA Colleges.
With the introduction of an all-female unit at an islamic school comes the new precedent of introducing cadets wearing the hijab.
In an interview with C News, Female Private Narinesingh indicated that this was her opportunity to “…change the face of muslim women…” because “…we are judged wrongly.”
History of ASJA Colleges (Charlieville) in the TTCF
The ASJA Boys Cadet Unit was formed in 2014 amidst an atmosphere of youth deviance and delinquency as well as increasing levels of crime in the surrounding communities. The school, in seeking ways to strengthen the positive influences on their students, made a strong call for a cadet unit to assist in achieving discipline within its student body.
In 2014 Lieutenant Nigel Cumberbatch (now Captain) was assigned to investigate these requests on behalf of the Commandant. In recommending that a unit be commissioned, he volunteered himself as unit commander, and invited WO1 Max Steeple to do the same.
In 2016, Under Officer Susan Dorman (now Second Lieutenant) was assigned to the Girls’ College to oversee the start of recruit training for the girls.
This weekend’s ceremony marked the induction of the second cohort of boys to complete their training, and the first cohort of girls, with the introduction of a unit at the Girls’s College.