The government is to provide assistance to the families of the two students from St. Andrew College, who died last Thursday (Feb. 2) while on a field trip.
The boys, 15-year-old Shane Burke and 16-year-old Demel Osbourne, drowned at the Shan Shay beach in Portland, having left Kingston on a school trip to the St Mary Banana Estate.
“I am giving instructions that assistance be given to the families,” said Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, during Wednesday’s (Feb.7) sitting of the House of Representatives.
“The government will assist the families in whatever way we can, so the Member of Parliament (MP) can indicate that and I would like to ask the MP to ensure that we know who we should be in touch with,”she added.
Mrs. Simpson Miller was speaking on a motion brought by Member of Parliament for South Trelawny, Marisa Dalrymple Philibert, just before the adjournment of the Lower House.
The Prime Minister also expressed condolences on behalf of the House members to the grieving families and members of the school community.
“I would like to encourage the parents; it is difficult to say to be strong at this time but we pray God’s guidance and comfort for members of the families, their community and the school community,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.
“I am sure all of us this evening must be feeling sad at the loss… may their souls rest in peace and light perpetual shine upon them,” she added.
MP for South East St. Andrew, where the school is located, Julian Robinson, said he had visited the institution Friday morning (Feb. 3) to offer condolences and support to the entire school family.
He said that while it is important to note that “something went very wrong”, persons should be cautious in their comments and how they judge the situation. “There is an investigation and there have been harsh comments about the teachers, but the entire school community is suffering,” Mr. Robinson stated.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Dalrymple Philibert, in expressing sympathy, said teachers should be encouraged to use the many educational opportunities that are available as part of the teaching process.
“The teachers at the St. Andrew School were obviously taking the children on a field trip. It seems to us that they had the interest of their children at heart. They wanted them to have a fabulous day, but out of this came this great tragedy where we lost two of our young boys,” Mrs. Dalrymple Philibert said.
She also added that “our hearts and prayers go out to the families of the boys, to the teachers as well and the entire school community, which need our tremendous support."
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter