Government Senator David Durant today called for a change in the contracts of school guards so they can be responsible for the protection of teachers.
“More robust security guards should be placed at our schools, especially more males who will be able to stand up and help in any skirmish because teachers seem to be the ones not to get into any parting of fights because they are afraid for their lives, and injuries,” Durant said in his contribution to debate on the 2018-2019 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure.
“If you have good strong security guards around then they may be able to intervene and help curb some of the violence.”
In the wake of the recent spate of school violence reports surfaced that security guards had been refusing to break up fights among students, because they claimed this was not part of their job description.
This prompted Minister of Education Ronald Jones to state that Government would consider changes to the guards’ contract to include protection of personnel clauses.
Durant today noted that security firms were usually contracted to protect the school building and equipment, but argued that “the principals and teachers they need protection as well.
“I think also the personnel need that level of protection. Teachers are very important for the education of our children,” the senator said.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY following a recent stabbing at Grantley Adams Memorial School, which resulted in injuries to four students, President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union Mary Redman said she had informed the Ministry of Education back in 2016 about the concerns of the security officers.
“The security officers are making it clear that their job is to protect the property and we have made that clear to the Ministry of Education. This is a problem for teachers because if the security guards are saying that they only are responsible for the property then they need to hire different security guards with the conditions of service which would involve protecting persons on the school plant,” Redman had said.
School violence has become a topic of national discussion as an increasing number of students suffer injuries at the hands of their peers.
Among the most high profile cases were separate stabbings involving students of Grantley Adams Memorial School, St Leonard’s Boys’ School and Darryl Jordan and Frederick Smith secondary schools, and a cutlass attack back in November last year in which a 17-year-old student of The Ellerslie School lost a finger.
Durant said these incidents did not mean the majority of Barbadian children had gone bad.
“All is not lost,” he said, adding, “there are positive things happening with our young people”
“Some of them are out there doing their best . . . most of our young people are doing an excellent job in their educational pursuits. Many are excelling in sport. Only a minority is delinquent. So, let’s not paint all the children with the same brush”, he stressed.
The senator and church leader added that violence in schools could not be explained in a simplistic way, but all elements governing human existence must be considered.
“I believe that we have dropped the ball somewhere because the question is, how did we get here, how our children have become so violent even within the school environment, even in the presence of teachers, and even to teachers as well.
“What is occurring in our schools is a mirror of what has been manifested on a wider scale in our house and our communities and we’re seeing it playing out in the lives of our children because children do what they see,” Durant stressed.