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VIDEO: Dunrobin Primary to be placed under safe schools programme

BY KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter matthewsk@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, October 05, 2012    

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DUNROBIN Primary, which was the scene of a brutal attack on a female teacher by two knife-wielding men on Monday, is to be placed under the School Security and Safety Programme, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites has said.

He said the decision was made following a request from teachers at the institution, with whom he met on Wednesday.

"They [the teachers] have asked... and I will consult with the Ministry of National Security and ensure that this be done," he said.

Launched eight years ago, the programme is intended to stem violence at public schools. Institutions are required to plan and implement school-specific safety measures to achieve violence prevention and reduction targets. As part of the programme, schools are equipped with surveillance cameras, metal detectors andhave the services of policemen trained as School Resource Officers.

Wednesday, Thwaites said although the programme was not originally designed for primary schools, the circumstances at Dunrobin warranted the approach.

The victim, a grade six teacher, was repeatedly hit in the face and kicked by the two men in front of her class. Alleged eyewitnesses said she was also stabbed at by the attackers who escaped in a waiting motor car that was parked on Red Hills Road.

Up to yesterday, there was no information as to what triggered the attack.

Earlier Wednesday, Thwaites told the Jamaica Observer that citizens must take greater responsibility for the security of the schools in their communities, and to be more vigilant in ensuring persons do not enter school compounds to harm students and staff.

"...I think it was very unwise for persons to be let into the school without the knowledge and the permission of the person they said they were coming to," Thwaites said. "To be admitted to the compound and told to go to the office clearly was a most unsafe thing which I think led to the tragedy which otherwise could be avoided."

While not absolving his ministry and the national security ministry of their role in protecting schools, Thwaites said communities need to be more involved.

"The ministry pays for three watchmen and a (security) guard at Dunrobin. We can't really do much more than that," he said.

"We must really ask the communities, the parent-teacher associations, the administrators as well as the local police to be very mindful of the need to protect the teachers as well as the students."

— Additional reporting by Luke Douglas

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