The teachers’ unions here have condemned the latest act of school violence, which has left one secondary school student hospitalized and another being questioned by police.
In a release today, the Royal Barbados Police Force said it was investigating an incident which occurred at a rural school sometime after 2 p.m. yesterday, which left a 14-year-old male student in critical condition at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital after he was struck on the head.
“Another male student is currently assisting police with their investigation,” the release said.
President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) Mary Redman told Barbados TODAY while she was not familiar with the specific incident, violence in schools should not be tolerated.
“I don’t know of the specific case, but I find it very distressing,” Redman said.
The BSTU boss has often complained about the level of violence in the country’s schools, including student on teacher violence.
She repeated these concerns today, telling Barbados TODAY threats were made against teachers on a daily basis.
Redman said in light of yesterday’s incident the Ministry of Education should move with urgency to resume quarterly meetings with the union so these issues could be adequately discussed and addressed.
“At our last quarterly meeting over a year ago the education chief said when we raise the whole issue of violence in school as it pertains to student on student violence and student on teacher violence, we were told that a special meeting is going to be set up to discuss that with us. Up to now we have not had that meeting.
“In the interim, discipline is deteriorating in many schools. We see evidence of it with all the fights recorded on cellphones,” she stressed.
Redman said the union was “very perturbed” at the increase in violence and fights in schools across the island, adding that it was one of the topics submitted to the Ministry of Education as an agenda item for a quarterly meeting that had been scheduled for February 15.
Pointing out that only last week at one school there were three different acts of violence including one that amounted to sexual assault, Redman said the situation was very serious and warranted “frank, open and honest” discussion.
“We need to raise our heads from in the sand and deal with this issue in the way it needs to be dealt with,” Redman insisted, while advising teachers to report threats and acts of violence to the police in the absence of forthcoming discussions and policies from the Ministry of Education.
Similar sentiments were voiced by President of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) Pedro Shepherd, who told Barbados TODAY it was time the Ministry of Education took the matter of violence in schools more seriously.
Like his BSTU counterpart, Shepherd said he was unaware of yesterday’s incident.
However, the trade unionist said he knew of a recent episode that left a teacher injured.
“We are having a lot of cases of violence and a lot of cases of malicious damage at schools, particularly at secondary schools, and a lot of it is underreported; and I think the Ministry of Education has to take control of the situation and ask all principals to report all cases to them,” Shepherd said.
“It is a serous problem in school with the level of violence, disturbances, disruption of teaching and learning and something has to be done about it,” he added.