EDUCATION Minister Anthony Garcia vowed to stamp out a spate of “street brawls” involving school girls, at a briefing on Tuesday at his Port of Spain ministry.
“Since the beginning of this term, we’ve seen a spiralling of indiscipline and violence in some of our schools. We are very concerned about what we are seeing.
“What is troubling is that most of these incidents occur outside of school and involve our female students. So when we see street brawls, we notice these brawls are being engaged in by our female students.”
Garcia said this must be stamped out. “If there are some students hell bent on creating havoc in our schools, we will deal with them.
We’ll put our foot down forcibly.” School must be a place of calm, safety and peace, he said “This term’s incidents were too many. Most fights are outside the school compound. Our form students migrate out of school with their violence.
“Growing up, I never heard of girls fighting. Now, engaging in brawls on the street is a cause of great concern.”
Chief Education Officer Harrilal Seecharan said pupil indiscipline is best tackled on several fronts, with the home and community being influential.
Seecharan promised core and extracurricular activities to engage pupils. Seven learning enrichment centres across TT for pupils on suspension will soon be replaced by two, Garcia said. More errant pupils will attend a three-year MYPART programme at the National Energy Skills Centre (NESC) at Couva for “a different type of education, training, intervention.”
NESC president Kern Dass said, “We believe there are youths who in the right environment can learn.
Since 2012 we trained 400 trainees. Eighty per cent find jobs.”
Schools will have a modified version.
Student Support Services Division head Prof Dennis Conrad said many pupils are “stressed out and angry.”
“Our students reflect what is happening in broader society and the world.”
Garcia added, “We live in a very violent society and that is creeping in to our school system.”
He hailed teachers for doing “an excellent job” against this.
Garcia said at San Juan North Secondary, five pupils were now on extended suspension, but claimed “hyperbole and exaggeration” in a recent news story.
“I’m not aware students are in the habit of smashing windscreens.”
Garcia said he had got no report of any teacher being raped, but would act if he got one. He said for 3-4 years that school was the epitome of discipline, but the principal’s exit has left a gap and a resurgence of indiscipline. Hoping not to be a “fire fighter” rushing from crisis to crisis, Garcia asked the media to not exaggerate problems in schools.
He said a principal and school supervisor denied pupils had locked in teachers at Malick Secondary.
“That report is erroneous. It’s a gross exaggeration.”
Garcia said Point Fortin East Secondary has resumed, with the nod of the Occupational Safety and Health Authority. Garcia told Newsday he did not know of an alleged flea infestation at Barataria North Secondary School. Otherwise Garcia hoped to host the School Soca Monarch Competition, pending his permanent secretary’s nod.