Teachers give government ultimatum on security

The Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) has given the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, a 30-day ultimatum in which to submit a plan of action to curb violence in schools.

“We are concerned about the impact of violence on the education system, as the vicious cycle continues to affect the schools, the homes, and the society at large,” JTA president Owen Speid told a news conference Monday.

“We believe that there is the need for review of minimum standards for all schools with security receiving priority. Perimeter fences should be mended, cameras should be installed, trained security personnel should be put in place, especially in volatile areas,” he added.

Speid said that there are issues in certain areas, adding “what we are saying to the government at this time is that they need to beef up security personnel in terms of trained officers, be it of the Jamaica Constabulary Force or other trained personnel, to be in the vicinity of schools, particularly at dismissal time, or when the children are about to enter the school premises.

“They need to beef up security personnel in terms of trained officers…to be in the vicinity of schools, particularly at dismissal time.”

— JTA President, Owen Speid

“We are calling on them to provide more security for the schools during those critical moments,” he said, listing a number of schools that have suffered attacks on teachers and security breaches, and called for legal sanctions for persons who commit such breaches.

Speid said those situations were causing a “deleterious effect on the school system as teachers are afraid and traumatised.”

During the news conference, Speid used the opportunity to express condolences to the relatives of students and teachers who have been brutally murdered since the start of the year, including 15-year-old Jaheim Palmer who was killed in a gun attack in St Catherine on Sunday (Feb. 9).