Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) Tobago Officer Orlando Kerr is calling on the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Division of Education, Innovation and Energy to address the issue of indiscipline, bullying and violence at schools across the island.
Kerr was speaking on the heels of Wednesday’s scuffle at the Signal Hill Secondary School in which 17-year-old Jaden Pereira had to be airlifted to the Port of Spain General Hospital in Trinidad, having sustained serious injuries to his head. Though sources are still tight-lipped, Newsday understands that, on Wednesday, Pereira, a form five student, was knocked unconscious with a concrete block by another student. The incident was said to have taken place while four boys were gambling on the school compound.
It is reported that Pereira got into a fight with one of the gamblers during which a boy was hit by a steel object in the head. Another boy then hit Pereira in his head with a concrete block, allegedly cracking his skull. Pereira fell bleeding and unconscious and was taken to the Scarborough General Hospital by ambulance and later airlifted to a hospital in Trinidad. Police are continuing investigations into the matter even as a video portraying the incident has gone viral on social media platforms. But Kerr, in speaking with Newsday yesterday, said, “We are in a reactive mode. When something happens then you would see someone from the division saying that they would look into it, but I am saying it shouldn’t be like that. It shouldn’t be that we are waiting until something happens. We have been asking for a long time now for all of us, for all the stakeholders to come around the table and formulate how we are going to move forward. I am very concerned because I think that things are not going to get better, we are going to see more and more violence in our system,”
Kerr recapped a recent incident at the Mason Hall Secondary School in which as scratch bomb was thrown into a classroom. “Are we going to wait until a student is killed?” he asked.
Kerr said the officials at the division needed to understand how to treat with students who were showing insubordination before it got out of hand.
Efforts to contact THA Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, secretary for the division, along with Assistant Secretary Marisha Osmond proved futile as calls to their mobile phones went unanswered. However, a press release from the Office of the Chief Secretary said the division strongly condemned Wednesday’s incident and confirmed that Pereira underwent surgery at the Port of Spain General Hospital on Wednesday night and was under observation.