It appears some local media are now banned from stepping foot on the compound of the Grantley Adams Memorial Secondary School, following a two-week impasse which propelled the school into the spotlight.
This morning, when a team from Barbados TODAY showed up to cover the school’s independence celebrations, which included an address by broadcaster Sherwood McCaskie, a security guard informed media personnel that they would not be allowed inside.
As frustrated journalists gathered at the front gate, the guard indicated that he had been instructed by Chairman of the school’s board, Dr Jonathan Lewis to restrict the media’s access to the compound. Dr Lewis then requested that security escort the media from around the school’s front gate and instead pointed them to stand at the side of the road.
Requests to speak directly with Dr Lewis and/or principal, Valdez Francis were denied.
Some time later, a reporter and cameraman from the state-owned Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) exited the school’s compound.
Over the past two weeks, dozens of students loudly protested the food available at the school’s canteen and also the subsequent banning of lunchtime access to the vendors just outside the school’s compound.
On Friday, Minister of Education, Santia Bradshaw criticized the recent coverage accusing media practitioners of “taking advantage” of students as they engaged in the controversial protest.
“It burns my soul to know that we are photographing and video-[taping] our students . . . climbing over fences . . . .
“We’ve taken advantage of a situation and I really ask that the media reflect . . . sometimes we have to be mindful that we are dealing with children. We are dealing with impressionable minds.
“There’s nothing wrong with children protesting, but we have to appreciate that we are dealing with children who are minors and we have a responsibility when we are reporting on these stories, not to take advantage of these young people,” she cautioned.
Throughout the protests, both the principal and chairman of the board have chosen not to comment to members of the media amid criticism of the administration’s handling of the matter.