The assault of a Grade One Teacher at the St Agnes Primary School in Church Street, Georgetown stemmed from a disagreement over the payment of medical expenses for an injured student.
The widely circulated video of the teacher being beaten and stripped almost naked surfaced on Facebook this week and the Education Ministry has since launched an investigation.
On Thursday, the News Room learnt that the incident took place in the Head Teacher’s office during a meeting Wednesday between the parents of two students who were involved in a fight the day before.
President of the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU), Mark Lyte during an interview with the News Room explained that two male students of Grade One were involved in a fight Tuesday during which one of them struck the other to the groin causing bleeding.
The injured student was taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital by the same teacher who was attacked after which the parents were contacted, however, even after some treatment was administered, the bleeding continued and they opted to take the child to a private hospital.
“Of course, the cost for private care had to be borne by the parent of the child who actually committed the act,” Lyte explained.
The parents of both students subsequently attended a meeting with the Head Teacher and the Class Teacher which then escalated into a physical altercation.
The teacher was brutalised by the parents of the child who reportedly injured the other student.
The GTU President said “it was perceived that it was the teacher that encouraged the parents to go to the private hospital…and that led to the escalation in the office…the parents got up and attack the teacher under the perception that it was the teacher who prompted the parent of the injured child to go to a private hospital.”
The News Room has been unable to contact either of the parents involved.
In the video, teachers were seen restraining a woman believed to be the perpetrator’s mother while a male was seen kicking the class teacher who was already on the floor.
The video was not recorded from the start of the altercation but eventually, the teacher was picked up and it was seen that her clothes had been torn off.
The teacher suffered bruises and cuts about her body.
The incident has evoked outrage from both parents and teachers across the country and the GTU is calling for better security at schools.
“We believe that adequate security at schools is not provided and available,” Lyte said. He explained that the security services are contracted but the officers employed are most times inadequate.
“Most of the persons are just there for a payday so we don’t get the services required,” he added.
This recent incident follows another in November 2019 when a Grade One Teacher at the Winfer Gardens Primary School was assaulted by a parent.
In that case, the parent and teacher were charged but the Union is not too happy with this approach.
Lyte said the Guyana Police Force (GPF) needs to do more to send a strong message because in Wednesday’s incident, the parents were sent away on their own recognizance.
The President of the GTU said teachers are now considering arming themselves in order to ensure their security.
“If you’re going to come into my space and try to do harm to me, then I might as well arm myself and teachers are talking about doing that because they feel insecure,” he said.
The GTU threatened strike action to demonstrate the seriousness of the issue.
“Unless the Ministry of Education and the Guyana Police Force fix this in the shortest possible time, you may very well find that next week teachers are going to be out on the streets indicating their dissatisfaction.”
All teachers are being urged to dress in black and white for work on Monday, as an indication that they are dissatisfied with security arrangements put in place for teachers.
The union is asking that by 10:00hrs, all schools are required to post a picture of staff in their black and white outfits with caption “Parents! Stop the violence against teachers”.