The Ministry of Education is promising to “move swiftly” to employ “all necessary measures” to prevent the recent outbreak of school violence from spreading to schools across the island.
Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education Senator Harry Husbands made this assertion during a press briefing this afternoon at the ministry’s Constitution Road, St Michael headquarters, following a stabbing today at the St Leonard’s Boys’ School, Richmond Gap, St Michael.
Two 16-year-old students of that school were injured during the confrontation and were taken to the state owned the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for treatment, one of whom was expected to undergo surgery.
Police said they were questioning two 15-years-old boys in connection with the stabbings.
“We had another very unfortunate incident in one of our schools today. The principal reported to the ministry that there was a stabbing on the compound. A team from the ministry visited the school and held discussions with the principal and some senior staff members. We have been informed that one young man stabbed another and that another youngster, who was intervening in some way, got a puncture in his face. These two were taken to the hospital and are still there. One is in serious but stable condition. We understand it may be necessary for him to undergo surgery later,” Husbands disclosed.
He added the ministry had advised the principal on certain actions which needed to be taken in the immediate aftermath of the incident, while revealing that ministry representatives would pay another visit to the school for further talks with the staff about the situation there.
Speaking at a news conference last Friday in the wake of a stabbing earlier that week at Grantley Adams Memorial School which resulted in injuries to four students, and the discovery
of several weapons, including a cutlass, Husbands had said
gangs that were infiltrating the schools were behind the rising violence.
The senior education spokesman reiterated his position today that there were “outside forces” infiltrating the schools, targeting young boys in particular.
“It is my strongly held view that we have to take all necessary action in conjunction with local security forces, to prevent this from reoccurring or spreading to other schools. The measures include a wide range of things.
“Through discussions with the [Royal Barbados] Police Force, we intend to do this and take the necessary measures. Now, many of these measures can’t be publicized, but rest assured the Ministry of Education will do all in its power to deal with this situation that is currently confronting many of our schools,” he stated.
Husbands said the Ministry of Education had spent considerable time over the last three years looking at the curriculum, offering more options in schools and making the curriculum more skills-based. He said it was now time to strengthen security in schools.
“We are working on these things as we speak. This does not mean that other and similar incidents wouldn’t occur over time but we are working swiftly to put all the required measures in place. What this incident today emphasizes is the critical nature of the issue confronting us and that we should move even more speedily to protect the teachers, students and all those who use the schools’ compounds,” he stated.
Meantime, Acting Inspector Roland Cobbler, the public relations officer of the RBPF, called for a “multidimensional approach” to successfully address violence in schools.
“These measures cannot be single-factored because the level of violence being displayed by our young people today is clearly multi-factoral; there is no single factor contributing to the level of aggression we are seeing in our young people. It will entail a multidimensional approach that will not only involve the ministry and the criminal justice system, but also other governmental and non-governmental agencies. Also, parents. Parents must realize that they have an important role to play in this process. No longer are parents working as closely with the school system as they ought to,” Cobbler was quoted by the Barbados Government Information Service as saying.
Chief Education Officer Karen Best also addressed the briefing at which she echoed Minister of Education Ronald Jones’ dismissal of recommendations to install metal detectors at the island’s schools.
“I need you to explain to me how the metal detectors would work in that situation. Our schools in Barbados are not built for the use of metal detectors. Metal detectors are used in situations where you have one entrance and one exit. Our schools are not designed that way . . . .At this point in time, we do not need metal detectors in our schools. The ministry will not support placing metal detectors in our schools,” Best maintained.
Senator Husbands told reporters that the increasing prevalence of violent encounters between students meant that the Ministry had to move quickly to implement its planned measures.
Classes at The St Leonard’s Boys’ School will resume as normal tomorrow.