Tough measures coming after student found with air gun at Lodge Sec. school
Minister of Education Priya Manickchand says tough measures will be put in place at the Lodge Secondary School after a student was found with an air gun inside his backpack on Thursday morning.
While the police are handling the matter with the Grade 11 boy, Manickchand said if his parents do not attend an upcoming Parent/Teacher Association (PTA) meeting, he will not be allowed back into the school but other measures will be put in place to assist him.
“We are going to put some tough measures in place for the particular school and we are going to hold a PTA, and in that PTA, if the parent doesn’t come, we are not going to accept that child back in school,” Manickchand said during an interview with the Department of Public Information on Thursday.
But she clarified that “this does not mean we leave them to stray on the streets, it means we will take them and go to their homes until we find each of [their] homes and get their parents to understand what is happening in the school.”
The Education Minister noted that there have been frequent reports of violence in schools; as such, she made it clear that this will not be tolerated.
“We cannot have one or two or 10 children hold any school to ransom and it is not going to happen, so I am encouraging parents to check on your children, know what is in their bags, know who they are hanging out with and what kind of friends they have,” Manickchand said.
Only on Wednesday, teachers at the school complained about the prevailing issue of gangs and being threatened daily by students.
Manickchand explained that the issue will be treated in a “real way” in collaboration with the Guyana Police Force, parents and the communities.
Manickchand said students must understand that while they have a right to an education, other people have a right to enjoy a safe space without fear and “that right will trump any right you feel you have to be disruptive.”
The first preference to deal with the issue is to reform and educate, however, students who continue to engage in violent behaviour can be sent to the New Opportunity Corps (NOC) – a juvenile correctional facility on the Essequibo Coast in Region Two.
“If we find that the regular school environment is unable to do that [reform and educate], there are other institutionalised means in the country called New Opportunity Corps for boys and girls,” Minister Manickchand said.
Further, Manickchand noted that schools with such incidents will require a complete overhaul, physically and academically.
“We will require all the help we can get, from the entire stakeholder community, teachers, parents, students the community, elders, the Ministry of Health, Social Service [and] Local Government.”
Meanwhile, in a separate incident, teachers and students of the Campbellville Secondary School in Georgetown were traumatised after a ‘gang-related’ incident disrupted the entire school on Thursday.
According to the Public Relations Manager of the Ministry of Education, Murtland Haley, the incident stemmed from a misunderstanding between two students at the school.