Protesting students padlock gates at Trench Town High School

“No Trench Town, no school” chanted some of the placard-bearing students.

The action of the protesting students forced teachers and other staff members to stand outside the compound and watch.

The padlocks were removed following intervention of a senior education officer and Member of Parliament for the St Andrew Southern Dr Omar Davies, in whose constituency the school is located.

“We are frustrated and angry about the plan to merge Trench Town and Charlie Smith. Trench Town is a school with a rich history, it is an institution that has helped to uplift a lot of young people in the community; this is unacceptable,” said one parent who supported the action of the students.

Dr Davies, however, chided the behaviour of the students and their parents.

“I don’t take lightly the padlocking of the gate. If you have a grievance, that grievance should be heard in a professional way,” said Davies.

He added that not only did he think that the approach taken by the students was disrespectful, but that the approach was an intimidatory tactic.

“I don’t deal with intimidation, and that is what it is,” said Davies as he addressed students and parents during a meeting held at the school after the protest.

Davies, during the meeting, urged students and others concerned to use the proper channel to air their grouse.

At the same time, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites described the development at the school as unnecessary and disgraceful.

“There seem to a be a real misunderstanding of the issue,” said Thwaites, who explained that students and teachers should not look at the merger and development of the Trench Town institution as a plan to take away their school.

“Some people in Trench Town are pushing the wrong idea that they are going to lose their school,” said Thwaites.

The education minister said what was taking place was that the authorities were investing to make the institution (Trench Town) into a community polytechnic, which would provide a higher level of education that the residents and students themselves would benefit from in the long run.

It was reported last month that Trench Town High would accommodate students from both schools, while Charlie Smith High would be transformed into a career- training institute.

However, the announce-ment caused protests from Charlie Smith High School students and supporters, many of whom argued that Charlie Smith was the superior of the two institutions and, therefore, should not be the one to be closed down.

In response, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites noted that the merger will be postponed for a month to explore other proposals.


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