Minister: School violence on decline as police patrol high-risk institutions

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Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Dr Nyan Gads­by-Dol­ly says school vi­o­lence is on the de­cline be­cause po­lice of­fi­cers are now pa­trolling in­side and out­side the com­pounds of high-risk schools.

Speak­ing to re­porters at a tour of schools in the St Patrick re­gion on Tues­day, Gads­by-Dol­ly said an in­ter-min­is­te­r­i­al team, set up to ad­dress school vi­o­lence, has com­plet­ed its in­ves­ti­ga­tions. The team has sub­mit­ted its find­ings and rec­om­men­da­tions, which will be shared with stake­hold­ers over the next two weeks, she not­ed.

By the next fort­night, the min­is­ter said all stake­hold­ers will meet to dis­cuss the re­port, fol­low­ing which a fi­nal re­port will be sent to Cab­i­net for pe­rusal. She said the com­mit­tee was not in favour of sus­pend­ed stu­dents be­ing sent home.

«A lot of it in­cludes pos­i­tive be­hav­iour man­age­ment and en­cour­age­ment, like bring­ing peo­ple in­to our schools to talk to chil­dren and al­so deal­ing with school sus­pen­sions. This has to be dis­cussed with TTUTA. We want to know how the chil­dren are be­ing su­per­vised and we cer­tain­ly have to move away from just send­ing them home,» Gads­by-Dol­ly said.

The min­is­ter not­ed that back­ground checks in­to delin­quent and vi­o­lent stu­dents of­ten show they were not get­ting the type of at­ten­tion and sup­port at home.

She al­so ex­pressed grat­i­tude for the ad­di­tion­al $300 mil­lion al­lo­cat­ed to her min­istry in the Mid-Year Bud­get, not­ing some of this will go to­wards clear­ing ar­rears for jan­i­to­r­i­al, main­te­nance and util­i­ty bills. She said school grants will al­so be paid so that school sup­plies can be pur­chased.

«At this time, jan­i­to­r­i­al and se­cu­ri­ty are crit­i­cal be­cause they are a big part of the COVID-19 man­age­ment struc­ture. We have got­ten grants for schools. It is very im­por­tant to as­sist schools so they can get the sup­plies they need to op­er­ate prop­er­ly, so we are very hap­py with this mon­ey al­lo­cat­ed to the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion,» she said.

Asked about out­stand­ing pay­ments owed to the school maxi taxi op­er­a­tors who trans­port stu­dents to and from school, Gads­by-Dol­ly said meet­ings have been tak­ing place over the past two weeks.

«We con­tin­ue to work with PTSC. There were two meet­ings last week with the maxi taxi as­so­ci­a­tion, PTSC and the min­istry and we ironed out some is­sues re­lat­ed to de­lays in pay­ment. We have to en­sure that maxi taxi dri­vers do not have to wait too long for pay­ment. The as­so­ci­a­tion has been very vo­cal about that,» she added.

Asked about the com­ple­tion of schools, Gads­by-Dol­ly said Cab­i­net had ap­proved $400 mil­lion which will be used to com­plete sev­en schools.

She said pre­vi­ous­ly, $400 mil­lion was used to com­plete 13 schools.

The min­is­ter could not name the sev­en schools that are ex­pect­ed to be com­plet­ed, say­ing she will pro­vide this at a lat­er time.

She added, «All schools where con­tracts were signed and there was no fund­ing arranged for the school, it will take some time to get through. A build­ing pro­gramme like that should have been fund­ed but it was not so we will have to do it bit by bit as we can af­ford.»

The min­is­ter said her tour of schools takes place fort­night­ly and she ex­pects to vis­it every school and com­plete her rounds of tours by next year. 

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LINK ORIGINAL: The Trinidad Guardian

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