EDUCATION Minister Ronald Thwaites wants public transport operators, who were recently granted a 25 per cent increase, to ensure the safety and protection of children who use their services.
"The music in the buses must be cut out; the tints on the buses must be removed," Thwaites said yesterday while addressing the annual conference of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) in Ocho Rios, St Ann.
"If 25 per cent is being given to the transportation sector it must be on condition that there is training and there is disposition towards the proper treatment of students. If you misbehave on the bus, there must be consequences not only for the students but for the bus operators as well," he said.
Minister of Transport, Works and Housing Dr Omar Davies on Monday announced a 25 per cent increase in fares for the public transportation sector, taking effect on Sunday, August 25.
In the meantime, Thwaites in addressing the issue of truancy in schools, said: "When a child is absent from school it is not optional, it is obligatory for a parent to inform the school in time... that their child is not going to be present".
He said, too, that with the increase of violence in schools, detentions and suspensions were not adequate at this time and that the reform of the education regulations will have to take place this year.
"Too much instructional time is being taken up simply to achieve order in the classroom," noted the education minister.
According to Thwaites, a key response from the Ministry of Education to the display of serious antisocial behaviour is the proposed reform of the Education Regulations which do not adequately address the treatment of deviant and, in many instances, criminal behaviour by students.
A number of the offences that currently occur in schools are not mentioned in the regulations and the punishment — detention, suspensions or separation — is felt to be inadequate. In this respect, the ministry has invited the JTA and other stakeholders to the table to review and reform the regulations.