THE Association of Principals of Public Secondary Schools said it is bracing for an influx of cannabis either in raw or cookie form due to the decriminalisation of small quantities of the substance.
Association president and principal of San Fernando West Secondary School Ronald Mootoo said metal detectors could not detect the substance and they did not have the manpower to do searches.
“We actually do not have the legal or moral authority to do searches according to the judge’s rule in most cases. So, this question of cannabis and marijuana decriminalisation has many of us looking forward to this new term with trepidation to put it mildly,” he said in an interview on the TT Unified Teachers Association's TTUTA Speaks radio programme on Thursday.
TTUTA president Antonia De Freitas said it was a legitimate and worrying concern and an issue they would want to discuss with both the Minister of Education Anthony Garcia and the Attorney General Faris Al Rawi.
As of now, she said, the association does not yet have a position on the proclamation of the December law which allows for possession of up to 30 grammes of marijuana and for adults to have four plants in their home.
“We haven’t yet had a full discussion with our membership and our executive to say well this is TTUTA’s position on it.
“All I can say for now is that it is a matter we intend to discuss in the very near future mindful of the concerns that Mr Mootoo would have raised. That’s a reality they would face.”
She said the situation is not happening in government schools only but in denominational and private schools.
“It is a reality and I mean it’s not only government schools, we had a situation with it. It is a reality that they (principals) anticipate. TTUTA has to come to a position first. It is not something I would want to pronounce on without having feedback from the membership as to their direction.
She said since January 9, TTUTA wrote to Garcia seeking a meeting to discuss a number of issues regarding COSTAAT, the status of schools, some which are yet to be opened, “And we are seeing situations burgeoning around the place. So that (marijuana) too is something we would have to discuss because as Mr Mootoo said there are implications for how systems in schools are placed.”
In that interview Mootoo also addressed complaints from association members about facility maintenance. He said some schools had gas leaks in the labs making the labs unusable, outstanding issues of roof repair, drainage, painting, furniture water quality and mould.
Mootoo said, in the past, government would have released funding at the beginning of the term, to allow for repair and stock taking. Over the last two years funds are being released in January, he said.
On curriculum implementation, Mootoo said while teachers are being trained and retrained and are focused on implementing strategies learnt, “most of the classrooms do not have the necessary wherewithal to implement the strategy.
“The ministry has an ICT programme currently going on and while we look forward to training on one hand, on the other we need support of other facilities in this specific case of ICT, better internet services, computers. In some schools we do not have space to provide computer labs.”
“The whole support system should be to facilitate more interrogation of the content rather than regurgitation. This to me what the use of ICT facilitates.”