Truancy cops back in schools

The decisions were made after Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh, National Security Minister Gary Griffith, national co-ordinator of the Citizen Security Programme Gregory, Sloane-Seale, and staff from the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development, the National Operations Centre (NOC) and the police met yesterday to discuss strategy to deal with school violence. 

The meeting, at the Education Ministry, Alexandra Street, St Clair, lasted two-and-a-half hours. Gopeesingh said it was called as a result of issues of indiscipline and violence but the majority of the schools were doing very well.  He added: “There is no chaos in the education system. “There is a well behaved population. It has been highlighted and it goes viral. We are leaders in education. We have good performers in the SEA, CSEC and CAPE getting world prizes.” 

Nevertheless, he listed a number of measures to be taken to reduce violence in schools. Schools would have access to the Cadet Force, a crisis management support team, mentors, truancy officers, social workers, counsellors, police youth clubs, student enhancement learning centres, community and parenting counselling, he said. They would also partner with the chuch and 18 denominational school boards, he added.

Gopeesingh said the CCTV cameras would be put in every school after a tendering process and the National Operations Centre would monitor the systems and respond to any occurrences of violence. He said there were over 600 members of the Student Support Services who would assist in counselling students and parents during the initiative. He said they would create a massive database of parents and they would communicate with them on issues within the schools.

Truancy officers, he said, would be re-introduced and would meet with parents. He added: “The Ministry of Education will now go to Cabinet to ask for truancy officers — they have been there in the past, but in the past ten years there were no truancy officers — who will go to the homes of parents when their students are not at school or are dysfunctional and will meet with those parents.

At a glance
• Truancy officers/management response team.
• Health and safety officers, guidance officers, social workers.
• Introduction of Girl Guides, Scouts, Cadets.
• Students take part in a student council.
• Involvement of police youth clubs.
• Participation in sport and martial arts.
• Mentors will speak at schools.
• Enhancement learning centres.


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