Most students disciplined, says minister
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO’S Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh says the majority of the country’s students are “disciplined, ambitious and well behaved”.
He made the comments during an impromptu press conference on school bullying and violence recently, which saw the attendance of newly-appointed Minister of National Security Brigadier Carl Alphonso, Minister of People and Social Development Christine Newallo-Hosein and other representatives.
“I want to stress that social media has made it possible to record these instances of violence and bullying, but it is still a few children who engage in such disturbing behaviour. The fact remains that the majority of our student population are disciplined, ambitious and often, well behaved children,” stressed the minister.
Gopeesingh noted, too, that a number of methods implemented by the ministry have gone a long way to reducing instances of school bullying and student violence and indiscipline. They would, though, require some more time to take full effect.
“Unfortunately, as is the case in general, this has not been enough so far to completely eradicate the scourge. The videos surfacing on social media and subsequently, the mainstream media which then reports on them, are naturally very disturbing and require immediate action. Naturally, parents are extremely concerned for the safety of their children in the one place where their children spend half their time away from home—in our schools,” he noted.
However, Gopeesingh assured that the Ministry of Education “will not shirk in its responsibility to ensure that the fundamental rights of our students, teachers, principals and other school employees are protected”.
The Ministry, he stated, refuses to allow parents, students, teachers and principals to live in fear for their safety or their children’s safety.
“This is why this morning, I have asked the National Security Minister to ensure that the police service in all communities stands ready and willing to make the necessary interventions when criminal acts of assault are committed against students,” said Gopeesingh.
He noted, too, that principals are aware that it is outside their purview to deal with students who break the law.
“Criminal acts in our schools, regardless of who perpetrates them, are criminal acts and must and should be dealt with by the police.
I wish to stress, though, that we recognise the sensitive nature of these actions when committed by children, and we will never shirk our responsibility to all students,” he said.
Gopeesingh stated that in light of this, the ministry “will work alongside the police to deal with these disturbing acts, to protect the children who are perpetrating them, and to ensure that they are dealt with in a compassionate manner”.
The issue of cell phone use was also discussed, with Gopeesingh noting that children are tempted to behave in “even more risky behaviour” when they are “performing for a camera”. (PR)