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Teachers boycott classes at Edith Dalton James High

Observer Reporter

Tuesday, June 07, 2005    

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TEACHERS at the Edith Dalton James High School in Duhaney Park, Kingston remained adamant yesterday they would continue to boycott classes until the security problems, including invasions by armed men, were addressed by the Ministry of Education.

The teachers said they were being attacked despite the posting of two uniformed police officers who were sent there last year as part of government's programme to reduce violence at public schools. Three unarmed security guards - two at the main gate inside the compound and the other on the playfield - are also part of the school's security.

"Teachers are at school (today) but they are not teaching any classes. At a staff meeting last Thursday the teachers decided not to go back to work until the Ministry of Education did something to fix the security," vice principal Audrey Seivwright told the Observer yesterday, after teachers and students demonstrated in front of the school to protest what they said was poor security.

She said, however, that students were allowed to sit their CXC ntegrated Science exam yesterday. "The students will still do the exam; it might affect them mentally... but they are still allowed to sit their exam," said the vice principal.

However, the school's principal was apparently not in favour of the work stoppage by his staff. "The administration has not issued any cessation of work. Nobody has announced they are sick," said the principal who gave his name only as Mr Thompson.

"No security, no school"; "Gunmen are feeding on us"; "We need proper security"; "We need proper fencing"; "We are traumatised", read some of the placards carried by the protesting teachers and students.

Seivwright said that on May 11, during the school's open day, gunmen shot and injured a past student on the compound and on June 1, a teacher from the cosmetology department was held up by armed men who stole her jewellery and motor car.

Students, said Seivwright, have also been robbed of their lunch money and cellular phones by young men from the area who sometimes lock them in the bathroom.

"We need security, need to feel secure when we come to our jobs, we don't need to look over our shoulders for gunmen, we need to feel secured. There are men on the games field smoking ganja and running down each other with guns. We can't be secured like that," the vice principal said.

Among the request of the teachers is for immediate repairs to be done to the perimeter fencing.

While some students were in support of their teachers, others said they missed not having their classes. One Grade 7 student, Kadien Wilson, complained that she wanted to go back to her class. "I want to go back to school 'cause me want to learn. We will miss the grade test and we don't get timetable for test this week because of what is going on," said Wilson as she hugged her friends.

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