Ministry official clarifies position on guns in schools
Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter
Following A pronouncement by the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) that it would not support any policy that allowed firearms on school compounds, director of security and safety at the Ministry of Education, Sergeant Coolridge Minto, is seeking to clarify any misunderstanding that may have arisen from recent comments he made.
Minto told The Gleaner yesterday that there was no concrete policy on how to treat with firearms and that the matter was no more than something up for dialogue at the moment and would include consultations with various players in the education sector before a policy could be developed.
"It is just at a discussion stage, not at a policy level. We would have to involve a number of stakeholders - all the stakeholders involved in the schools and the persons who have anything to do with firearms," Minto said.
Media reports quoted Minto as saying that the ministry was looking at whether persons with private firearms should be allowed to take them on to the school compound.
Minto said this was part of a wider discussion, which was focused on reviewing the education ministry's current manuals on safety and security in schools.
Dr Mark Nicely, JTA president, yesterday told The Gleaner that while the union was not part of the discussions on the new measures, it would not support the introduction of firearms.
Minto said the policy being looked at would examine what obtained when a student was found with a firearm on the school compound or a student was suspected of coming into contact with illegal weapons.
Minto said at the moment, the ministry's main focus was to ensure that security and safety committees were established in all schools come September.
"The review currently is looking at the security and safety committee, which ought to be set up in schools. That committee, which the safe schools policy speaks to, is the committee we are pushing to establish in all schools. Currently, some schools are operating without that," Minto said.
He said these committees would have as their mandate to ensure that schools are secure from not only criminals, but from natural and manmade disasters, including hurricanes and fires.
Minto said these committees would not focus on disciplinary issues, but would be seeking to find solutions to make schools more secure for students and teachers.