Ministry taking steps to secure students
Increased cooperation with the police and a comprehensive bus system are two of the measures to be introduced by the Ministry of Education as it moves to increase the security of students when the new school year begins,
Education Minister Ruel Reid says he has already initiated discussions with various stakeholders to see how best to protect the nation's students come September.
"In light of the increasing crime rate, it's not entirely an activity that the ministry itself can do. We have to work with law enforcement. What we normally do is to have our regional officers meet with the principals, the police and other stakeholders in working out a plan," said Reid.
"We have done that from time to time with west Kingston and so on, if you have flare-ups. In a sense, you speak with the community. As the community appreciates the value of education, they tend to 'simmer down' the level of violence, so to speak.
"We are already proactively engaged with the Police High Command to see how we can work together on the ground to see how we can ensure safe passage for our students to and from school," added Reid.
In the meantime, Ronald Thwaites, the opposition spokesperson on education, is urging the security forces to provide adequate protection for students so that they can make it to classes.
"I'm advising everyone to brave whatever fears they have and go out. It's such a tragedy to miss even a day in school, and looking at the statistics, there is about 20 per cent of our students who are absent every day. That's almost unrecoverable," said Thwaites.
"The general advice is to be brave and to go out to school every day. As far as intra-school violence is concerned, principals and teachers must partner with parents and they must take charge of their schools.
"There is no room for indiscipline or lack of discipline in any school," added Thwaites.