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Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Maxine Henry-Wilson, has made an impassioned plea to residents of communities surrounding schools to adopt these institutions and ensure their protection. The Minister noted that because communities were the primary beneficiaries of the education system, they had a duty to ensure that schools continued to function effectively.
“We know that schools face particular challenges because of financial constraints but available data shows that schools that have some of the best maintenance is not because they are awash with money, but because they have an active community participation programme,” Mrs. Henry-Wilson said, as she addressed a stakeholders meeting held recently at the Social Development Commission’s office in Morant Bay, St. Thomas.
She pointed to a school in the South Eastern St. Andrew community, which she represents, that was damaged by Hurricane Dennis and the community formed a “construction brigade” to repair the damage.She also informed of “reading brigades” in the constituency to monitor reading in schools and “security brigades” to ensure that the properties are safe for children and teachers.
The Education Minister noted also, that communities had a role to play in helping to quell violence in schools. “I hear all the cries about what education must do about security, but it is the community that must take the lead in doing something about violence,” she said.
“If this continues, not only will more schools decide to close, as is happening now, but also, we are going to have to spend too much money on putting in place security guards, security fencing and cameras, money that could be spent putting in place a computer laboratory, a library or giving much needed support to teachers in the classroom,” she added.
Mrs. Henry-Wilson noted further that as a country, “we cannot close our eyes to these incidents and then turn around looking surprised and complain that the government is doing nothing.you have to take a stand to end this type of violence in schools”.”It all boils down to accountability.from the Minister down”, she said, adding that, “everyone has to take an active part in ensuring the viability of the future.”