JIS News

The Minister of Education wishes to commend the Police in its effort to tackle the problems of truancy, possession of offensive weapons and contraband, violence and disorder facing our school system. The Ministry recognizes that these challenges are as much education management issues as they are security issues. The multi-faceted nature of the problem requires a multi-sectoral response from the Government and Society. The Ministry of Education is therefore encouraged by the proactive and visible approach taken by the Police through the Community Safety Branch.
Safer schools mean a safer society. Schools not only provide academic instruction, but are also an important institution for socializing tomorrow’s generation. Students should leave our schools with the skills, knowledge and attitude to become caring, productive, law-abiding members of society. If we do not move quickly to stem the tide of indiscipline and anti-social behaviour in our schools, they could become training grounds of a different sort where today’s delinquent becomes tomorrow’s criminal.
The Ministry strongly believes that creating a safe learning environment extends beyond the walls of our schools. For this reason, the Ministry’s “Security and Safety Policy Guidelines,” introduced in this academic year, mandate school administrators to create a security and safety network comprising parents, community interests, the Police and relevant Government agencies. This network is aimed at developing and co-ordinating activities designed to promote the security and safety of students and teachers.
In keeping with this policy direction, the Ministry of Education is committed to working closely with the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Transport, the Police and other relevant agencies where appropriate. One result of this greater collaboration is the increased numbers of searches which have yielded knives, homemade guns, and other contraband.
The police must now focus additionally on; truancy, the operations of vendors and vagrants in the school vicinity, and indiscipline of students in public spaces, such as transport centres or on public transportation.
The Ministry of Education is now developing the framework for a dedicated ‘safe schools patrol’ from a schools management perspective to enhance the existing Safe Schools programme. The Ministry further intends to table legislation necessary to designate schools as “safe zones” along with numerous other measures, following feedback from stakeholders on the implementation of the new Policy Guidelines now underway in schools. A Policy and Legal Reform Workgroup has been established and is mandated to lead this process. In the interim, the Ministry intends to advocate a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to the enforcement of existing laws such as: The Child Care and Protection Act; The Offensive Weapons (Prohibition) Act; The Dangerous Drug Act; and laws regulating places of amusement.
Under the Child Care and Protection Act, parents and guardians must realize that they have a legal duty to ensure that their child is enrolled and attends school. The Act also makes provision for the restriction on employment of children and begging by children. There are criminal sanctions for operators of establishments who sell alcohol and tobacco to children and Constables have the power to bring before the Court children who appear to be in need of care and protection. This includes situations where a parent or guardian fails to exercise proper care and guardianship of their child and that child is falling into bad associations, exposed to moral danger or beyond control. Once before the Court, the Court is empowered to make orders in the best interest of the child, including requiring the parent or guardian to enter into recognizance to exercise proper care over their children. The Ministry also has power under the Education Act to enforce the compulsory education of children.
The Ministry is committed to ensuring safer learning environments for our children and urges its partners in this process to ensure that children who are found to be in conflict with the law are afforded protection of their human rights and dignity. Every case must be examined on its own merits, and action taken in the best interest of the child involved. Care must also be taken to inform and involve parents and school administrators in the law enforcement process.

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