Police and union officials are probing an incident at a primary school this morning when an unknown man barged onto the compound as teachers were attending a meeting in preparation for tomorrow’s start of classes.
While no one was reportedly injured, president of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) Sean Spencer said the security breach could have resulted in a more serious outcome.
He said the manner in which the intruder entered the school caused some staff to be alarmed, forcing them to flee for fear for their safety.
“The janitor managed to lock herself up [in a room] to keep out of harm’s way. The man apparently grabbed keys from a member of staff, entered the classroom and threw a television and other stuff across the room,” the BUT leader told Barbados TODAY this afternoon.
He said the majority of staff, mostly teachers, were in a meeting at the time.
“The police would have been alerted to the situation and responded. When they searched the area the individual was not found. It gives rise to a situation where the staff is now unsettled,” he added.
He lamented that the school has been without a proper perimeter fence for over ten years.
“The fence has been very porous. It could be one where you could say that the poles and the fence have long divorced and gone their separate ways,” Spencer said.
The union boss said that this latest incident brought into sharp focus teachers’ concern regarding the security at the island’s schools and he queried whether a more serious incident would have to take place for measures at schools to be urgently improved.
Spencer told Barbados TODAY this matter, along with other security breaches, would be high on the agenda of a planned meeting later this month with the Ministry of Education.
“A number of the staff members, both teaching and non-teaching members of staff [found themselves] having to secure themselves basically to escape what seemed to be some mentally-challenged individual,” he recalled.
“What this brings to bear is the fact that we have again, and unfortunately, been visited by a case where the outcome could have been much more severe and dire…and it seems it would take some more unfortunate circumstance or set of circumstances to see these security measures being improved,” he contended. He said the BUT was concerned that the school plants in Barbados appear now to be left open to all and sundry to traverse and trespass.
“And it really and truly is not a tenable situation. The teaching fraternity is really and truly highly desirous of seeing that these needs be addressed urgently…and we are going to be having to look into this matter more thoroughly,” he promised.
He suggested that some of the proposals which the union could submit for improved security include petitioning the Ministry of Defence and Security or addressing the Ministry of Finance which controls the purse strings of Government.
“But this is an issue which has grave consequences. You have schools which have nursery students, three years of age who can potentially be harmed. We had two cases early during the last school term . . . one at Belmont Primary which led to a parent being charged and another situation where another individual who also seemed to have mental challenges, went onto the compound of another rural school and threatened to kill a child. These are not the situations we want to be the common practice in 2019,” the BUT president warned.
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