Time to act on Hopewell, Minister Thwaites

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

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IT is high time, we believe, that Education Minister Ronald Thwaites gets personally involved in the situation that has dogged the relatively new institution of secondary learning in Eastern Hanover, Hopewell High.

Since last year, this newspaper has been carrying reports of irregular conduct at the school, and it appears that little has been, or is being done to get to the bottom of various allegations that do not augur well for an institution established to mould the minds of young people.

The Sunday Observer's lead story of July 6 brought to the forefront the breakdown of discipline that has resulted in widescale sexual acts by students on compounds close to the school — acts which appear to be way out of the control of those put in charge to manage the school.

And as we reflect on how students are allowed to leave the compound at will in order to turn their sexual fantasies into reality, there is yet a bigger picture of what has characterised the institution, in terms of its overall management, that needs to be placed on the examination table and adequately addressed.

Amid a number of charges made against the school's first and only principal, Ms Joyce Irving, the school's board of governors, instructed by the Ministry of Education, suspended Ms Irving last December after she refused to step aside while a probe into the running of the school was being conducted.

At the time, we heard from education ministry officials of a desire for the investigation to be completed within the shortest possible time. We had no idea that that shortest possible time would have gone into a seventh month.

For the information that is available to those conducting the probe on behalf of the Ministry of Education appears, in our estimation, to be compelling enough in order that a final decision could have been made long ago, certainly before the 2013-2014 school year ended last week.

We hope that there is no attempt to try and conceal information, or, as the saying goes, sweep things under the carpet, for that could result in serious consequences for the co-educational institution and those charged with the responsibility of seeing that choppy seas do not wreck the vessel transporting some of Jamaica's future leaders.

So we urge Minister Thwaites, who we believe has done an admirable job in his portfolio given the resources at his disposal, to turn that key that will unlock a roomful of some of the perceived mysteries that have beset this fledgling institution.

There are many questions to be answered by the suspended principal, based on the information that the Jamaica Observer has at its disposal, some of which is in the custody of the school's board of governors.

The new school year begins in less than two months and the Ministry of Education needs to demonstrate its seriousness in dealing with this matter.

The ball is in your half of the turf, Minister Thwaites.




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