English River secondary school teachers threaten protest, get reassurance from ministry rep


Teachers from English River secondary school yesterday morning threatened to stage a sit in protest until they were reassured of their security and reinforced measures at the school to make it more secure and conducive for teaching.  

The principal secretary for Education Dr Odile de Commarmond rushed to the school to diffuse rising tension after she had been informed of the situation.

She held a meeting with the teachers, heard their concerns and brought some support and reassurance to them following the incident on Friday where a male teacher was assaulted in yet another case of gross disrespect for a teacher by students.

The teachers had threatened to do a silent sit in protest and in solidarity with their colleague until they were reassured of additional security and patrols at the school following the deplorable incident.

“Their concerns are understandable in view of what happened on Friday and they want to see more patrols and security presence and these were not yet in place so I took the opportunity to brief them on the measures being considered and those already being put in place to reinforce security at the school as well as procedures underway to determine long-term actions against the concerned students,” Dr de Commarmond said.

Other than their security concerns and students’ issues, Dr de Commarmond said then meeting was also an occasion for the teachers to share ideas and views on how best to handle and address students with attitude and behavioural issues.

Asked what guarantee the Ministry of Education can give that other schools will not also express discontent as there are concerns that other schools are also facing various similar challenges, which can also result in similar situations, Dr de Commarmond said following the  meeting with security firms on Friday they are going to beef up security at all secondary schools by the end of the term.

She added that for the time being there is no security at primary schools but this will be introduced next year.

On top of that Dr de Commarmond said the ministry is working with the police and is discussing with the Anti Narcotics Bureau (ANB) so that they carry out frequent patrols at all the schools to discourage disorderly conduct, boost teachers’ confidence, give them more reassurance so they can teach in a more conducive environment.

Meanwhile Dr de Commarmond has reassured parents and the public that in spite of all the goings on of the past few days, no examination time table has been disrupted and students have sat their exams as planned.

“All exams have been properly invigilated as planned,” Dr de Commarmond added.

She also stressed that all teachers who have carried out solidarity actions like protests in support of their colleagues have done so in an orderly manner during break time, after school hours and at the weekend in order not to disrupt normal school time table.

“The Ministry of Education really appreciates the fact that English River school requested support from the ministry this morning. The teachers have a right to be concerned and have a right to know what is happening, measures and actions being taken with regard to their security concerns,” Dr de Commarmond stressed.

Meanwhile Dr de Commarmond has called for more support from other ministries, agencies and civil society bodies as well as Sifco as these issues she said are not only the concern of the Ministry of Education but everybody and society as a whole.

“Who is for instance talking to the parents of these students and coming out strongly to condemn these bad actions and behaviour and at the same time counselling them? We need all the support we can get  from everyone as we try our best to ensure the situation in our schools get back to normal as soon as possible,” Dr de Commarmond pointed out.

Furthermore she went on to add that there are many good students and very good parents who are doing their best to support the schools and they must not be denied their right and opportunity to a good education.

Dr de Commarmond said the ministry is committed to ensuring security is beefed up at the schools to prevent a repetition of events of the past few days as well as make the defaulters and their parents see that they mean business and will not tolerate such behaviour.

She also noted that the education ministry is also concerned about the future of pupils who are being expelled and will continue to push for  the right structure where they can follow a well targeted long-term programme so they can in future be reintegrated in the school’s normal programme.






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