JIS News

Minister of Education, Andrew Holness has unveiled a number of strategies aimed at tackling the growing problem of crime and violence in the nation’s schools.
Chief among the strategies, which were put forward by a committee that was set up to examine the issue are: implementing a search programme to detect weapons, putting in perimeter fencing, and curtailing the use of cellphones during school hours.
“The issue of weapons in schools is a very serious one and any policy on security in schools would have to address the ease at which students can carry weapons to schools,” Mr. Holness said at a press conference held at the Ministry on Wednesday (Jan. 30).
He noted that the frequency with which weapons are found, has forced several schools to implement search methods. “While there are constitutional issues that need to be ironed out, we think that we are on safe grounds to implement a search programme in schools. This will be aided by the provision of metal detectors,” he informed.
Minister Holness explained that the metal detectors are inexpensive, would not require the teacher or the authorized person conducting the search to have physical contact with the students and would add a new layer of security in the school system.
Additionally, the Education Minister informed that when weapons are discovered, they would be turned over and the students reported to the Safe Schools Resource Officers for them to take action.
In terms of perimeter fencing, Minister Holness said that schools must have control over their domain and as such, the Ministry has set a minimum standard where all schools must be fenced with a well secure access point for entry and exit.
“There will be a financial cost to this and we certainly will not be able to have it done in one go but this is now the new standard. all schools must be fenced,” he asserted adding that schools also must delineate areas that are off limits to visitors and parents. Continuing, Minister Holness announced that the use of cellphones during class time or designated time is banned. According to the Education Minister, while some may argue that this move will deprive students of the utility of the phones, “I don’t want to have to weigh the life of one student versus the freedom of everybody to use their cellphones.”
Minister Holness reasoned, “if it is that the cellphone in schools is going to be the attraction for crime and we have it within our powers to control it and we didn’t and someone loses their life as a result, we would be guilty.”
Based on statistics from the Ministry of Education, there were 96 reported cases of serious incidents of crime and violence including stabbings, sexual abuse, and vandalisms that took place in schools in 2007.