Education Minister: Stakeholders to get report on school violence this week

File photo: Minister of Educatoin Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly.
File photo: Minister of Educatoin Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly.

The Education Minister has said the inter-ministerial committee set up to address school violence is finalising a report to give to stakeholders this week.

Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly added that government officials expect to meet with the stakeholders in two weeks.

"They can have their input, so we can have a final programme to send to the Cabinet," the minister said.

She spoke to reporters at the St Brigid's Girls' RC School in Siparia during a school tour in south Trinidad on Tuesday.

"That would really solidify the involvement of other ministries so that we have a proper system. No matter which government or minister is in, this would be the system of dealing with school violence."

The minister said the policy on the reduction of school violence includes positive behaviour management and encouragement – a framework for bringing people to talk to children and with dealing with school suspension.

She said it is crucial to understand how the students are supervised. The ministry wants to move away from "just suspending" students with deviant behaviours.

"We want to ensure that they get the type of attention and support. When children behave in this way, we often hear the backstory, and it really a lack of support in the home."

She thanked the police for their efforts in school violence, saying there has been a reduction in school violence. She was unable to give statistics, but emphasised that the police have been very helpful and co-operative.

"That's because the police have been active in the schools as we have asked them to. They have been patrolling in and outside schools and in populated areas, "Gadsby-Dolly said. "That is not to say that they will not be a couple of instances popping up."

Asked to comment on a viral video on social media involving a man hitting a boy in a school uniform, she responded she did not know where it happened.

"What I saw was a short clip of an adult hitting a child.

"The matter was referred to the police. It did not happen in a school, so it's a matter for the police to investigate."

A report from the ministry in March on existing systems to reduce indiscipline and violence in schools said schools are considered microcosms of society.

The report identified 16 schools as high-risk.

Many form one students there scored under 30 per cent in the Secondary Entrance Assessment examination. The report said the schools had high levels of indiscipline, high absenteeism and low levels of CSEC achievement. At least seven of the 16 schools exhibited all these characteristics.

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