THE EDITOR, Sir:
The minister of education has found it necessary to engage the full force of his office to address the reported incidence of sexual harassment of lower-school girls by some of their senior counterparts. I find this situation very troubling on two primary fronts.
First, the media continue to protect the 'sanctity' of our so-called prominent schools. I find it disingenuous for members of the media to 'out' schools that are not designated as 'prominent' when some students of these schools engage in unsavoury behaviour, but are quick to withhold the name(s) of our favoured high schools. Calculated or not, this disparity only serves to deepen the sharp divide that exists in our secondary system.
Second, the need for intervention by the ministry takes me back to Andrew Holness' characterisation of some our schools as being 'failing'. I am in full support of the former prime minister's sentiment, but would like to take it a bit further.
Schools such as the 'prominent' one involved in the alleged lesbian harassment debacle have failed the students that have been harassed over time. Labelling schools as failing should not be limited to academic underachievement and should be extended to include institutions that fail to create a conducive and safe environment for all.
If there is any truth to this story, the principal and staff of this and other schools have failed miserably, and this has again brought into focus the issue of leadership and its role in creating successful learning environments. I only hope that whereas the horse has already left the barn, we will be able to arrest the problem.
Education Minister Ronnie Thwaites should set aside the feel-good rhetoric (similar to his response to Holness' 'failing schools' assertion).
I don't believe Mr Holness was trying to disparage students, but I question Mr Thwaites' attempt at covering up the reality of a failing system. We need to acknowledge that the Ministry of Education, ably assisted by principals, students and parents, is a co-conspirator in this crime against society.
Are solutions available? Yes! Do we have the will? No!
RICHARD KITSON-WALTERS (Dr)