WE REGRET that we must to return yet again to the question of security in schools. Less than 48 hours after reports of a confrontation between a parent and a pregnant teacher on the compound of Ste Madeleine Secondary, we must now come to terms with an incident that is even worse: an armed robbery at the Jordan Hill Presbyterian Primary.
The State and relevant stakeholders cannot wait until the situation gets any worse. A comprehensive review of security arrangements at all educational facilities in the country — ranging from primary to tertiary — is urgently required.
This week’s events cannot be regarded as isolated incidents. They are part of a pattern of increasing boldness on the part of criminals who now impinge on what should be hallowed ground: the domain of students.
Wednesday’s armed robbery of Angel Narine, 28, a teacher who is just establishing her fledgling career as an educator, is the third high-profile breach of security at a school within the last five months. It came after Monday’s incident at the Ste Madeline Secondary School and a few months after the hostage drama at the MIC Institute of Technology. There may well be many other unreported cases that have not reached the attention of the public.
It is quite clear that security at schools is inadequate. That an armed robbery could have taken place on the compound of a primary school so easily is cause for serious concern. While we are relieved the teacher in question escaped unharmed, the incident could have been far worse. If a bandit feels confident that they can do this, who else and where?
All stakeholders must now put aside their differences and come together to review and overhaul existing arrangements.
This means the State, the denominational boards, TTUTA, and the NPTA must for once work together to devise solutions. On the question of safety all should be on the same page.
We should not wait for yet another incident to take action.
We need school compounds to be properly controlled, safety checks in relation to students and parents (there are too many cases of contraband items being found in bookbags), and robust preventative measures that dangerous people to not get close to school premises to do harm.
Meanwhile, law enforcement authorities must do everything in their power to bring the perpetrators at the centre of this week’s incidents to justice. We must as a society respond in the strongest possible terms.