Former educator Cynthia Forde has raised concern about the level of violence in schools and the lack of proper dress by some teachers, as she called for reform across the education system.
Insisting that schools should never be seen as war zones, the Opposition MP called for the power to search amendment that was introduced more than a decade ago to be enforced in light of recent reports of weapons being confiscated at schools.
She urged Minister of Education Ronald Jones to articulate a clear plan because too many children were “on the truancy trail” and engaging in serious crime and indiscipline.
“Sometimes we don’t know what the children are carrying in their bags and teachers, if they want to safeguard themselves on school compounds, must make sure that those children who they suspect to be carrying weapons, that the search be employed but that it be done the correct way,” the St Thomas representative said.
“I want them to follow the regulation to institute that power to search amendment and to safeguard the school. A school must be a safety zone and not a war zone.”
Forde also called on the Education Minister to enforce a code of conduct for teachers since more of them were dressing inappropriately for the classroom. She cautioned that if this was not addressed there would be serious consequences.
“Too many teachers are going to school untidy and we cannot expect the children to be wearing their uniforms a certain length . . . but we have some teachers who are so untidy the janitors and general workers are better attired than they are and I believe we need to have that [code] instituted as soon as possible. Unless young teachers get an opportunity to be properly mentored like those in the system before, it really is going to create some terrible problems.”
Forde noted the Government’s $489 million allocation for education but called for critical issues to be addressed to ensure that the country gets a good return on its investment.
“There are too many distractions in schools for our childen, too many concerns about the height of waywardness and delinquency. If we invest so many millions then we should get the benefits,” she said.