Harsh penalties for persons who destroy public schools – Minister Benn
Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn on Tuesday said there will be harsh penalties for persons who destroy public schools.
A statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs said Minister Benn empathises with the students, teachers, supporting staff and parents affected by these recent fires and notes that the Government of Guyana and the Ministry of Home Affairs remain committed to those affected.
The statement from the Ministry said Minister Benn wishes to remind the public that there are harsh penalties attached to arson attacks, and once identified; the perpetrator/s will face the full brunt of the law.
The most recent fire at Christ Church Secondary, which occurred on January 12, 2023, affected 503 students, 39 teachers and nine ancillary staff. Another 397 students, 33 teachers and four ancillary staff were affected at St George’s High School after a fire destroyed the school on July 20, 2022.
In June 2021, North Ruimveldt Multilateral School saw the displacement of 444 students, 40 teachers and five ancillary staff and a fire in September 2021 at the North West Secondary School displaced some 610 students, 38 teachers and 11 ancillary staff.
Two of the fires were maliciously set by person/persons who have no regard for the future development of the nation’s children, according to the statement.
“These buildings, known as schools, have a rich history as part of our colonial past. The Minister of Home Affairs strongly condemns those trying to wreak havoc and create future weakness and uncertainty within the school system and the nation,” the statement said.
The statement further noted that the ministry is aware that school fires create a negative ripple effect on the education system. It is calling on all agencies and citizens to be vigilant to ensure the protection and sustainability of the education sector.
The PPP/C Government has rendered quick assistance and aid to the displaced teachers and students of the recent fires.
Students of the Christ Church Secondary School turned out on Monday for their first day using the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) building at Turkeyen, Georgetown. This was the location decided on for the students to continue learning after the fire. Meanwhile the North Ruimveldt Multilateral and the North West Secondary schools are under construction.