Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
With the new academic year set to start in two weeks, stakeholders in the education sector are calling for clear-cut plans to protect thousands of students who will be traversing the war-torn streets in the western Kingston communities which have been ravaged by recent gang feuds.
Everton Hannam, president of the National Parent-Teachers' Association of Jamaica (NPTAJ), told The Gleaner that the State needs to step up to the plate to curb the violence and halt the attack on children.
"The issue of security is a state matter. The State is mandated and paid to protect all the citizens of Jamaica, including our children, and the State must, therefore, put in place the necessary plans to ensure that when school reopens, our children are protected," he said.
Both Hannam and Member of Parliament for West Kingston Desmond McKenzie, who plans to spend another $7.5 million on education in the new school year, say the Ministry of National Security has been found wanting.
The ministry has portfolio responsibilities for not just the enforcement of security measures, but the social-intervention programme called the Citizen Security and Justice Programme.
"I am not pleased with the level of leadership that programme offers in the constituency because I don't feel that the officers really understand and know the real needs," stressed McKenzie.