There appears to be no immediate resolution to the security concerns of teachers of the Ellerton Primary School in St George, and the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) is making it clear that it is running out of patience with the Ministry of Education’s lack of action.
Following a meeting with the teachers at the school this afternoon, BUT president Sean Spencer revealed that since Monday’s unwanted visit by an apparently mentally unstable man, two other intruders came onto the school, which is without perimeter fencing or security guards. The details surrounding the two most recent intrusions are not known.
“The union is saddened to report that another incident, of the same nature, occurred on February 13 further compromising the operational tone of the school and causing those present – students, teachers and ancillary staff – mental duress. Today, another intruder trespassed onto the school’s compound,” Spencer revealed, emphasizing that the man in Monday’s incident was a repeat offender and that encounter was especially traumatic.
Barbados TODAY understands that yesterday and today some teachers were off the job in an apparent response to the incidents. Spencer did not state if this action represented BUT-sanctioned protest. However, he said: “As a representative body for teachers and a responsible institution, the union is compelled to agitate for improved security in schools; while wholly conscious of the three and four-year-olds present daily in some of our schools.
“While extensive physical re-development of school plants may not count as a priority for governments with limited resources, at some point it should be accepted that healthy, safe and secure educational institutions are critical to our social welfare agenda, especially as a safe haven for those students who may be vulnerable and marginalized, and no less for those whom schools constitute their workplaces,” he added
Spencer explained that his union had written to the Ministry of Education at the beginning of the school term after a similar incident at the St George school, but to date they have received no formal response or acknowledgement of
“While we await the response of the ministry, it is our view that the incidents of that day are consequences of the longstanding and abject lack of security with respect to the Ellerton Primary School. Children should be able to go into school and be allowed to function without fear; and so too should teachers,” he said.
On January 7, the man, who was later picked up by police, barged onto the compound, alarming teachers as they were attending a meeting in preparation for the start of the school term. On Monday the man returned, this time coming into contact with students, who were reportedly terrified by the encounter.
This afternoon, the BUT president acknowledged that issues of school security did not begin with the current nine-month-old Government, but it is now a case of teachers no longer being able to hold strain. He pointed out that the stress caused by the security concerns were not limited to occupants of the school facility, but extended to parents of the students and loved ones of the staff, who also share the burden of fear.