MANDEVILLE — Minister of Education, Hon Andrew Holness, has asked school administrators to move quickly, with the help of the police, whenever they detect the formation of gangs within their schools.
“Any form of association, any form of grouping that has an anti-social effect, is to be treated as a gang in the school,” Mr. Holness told a memorial service on Friday June 3 at the Cross Keys High School, Manchester, for 16-year-old Haig Williams, who was slain at the school, recently.
Mr. Holness warned school administrators not to wait until the gangs become rooted in their schools.
“The moment you see signs of any groups emerging that display any form of anti-social behaviour, notify the police,” the Minister said.
He noted that the Ministry of Education has put in place policy guidelines, to assist schools dealing with gangs.
“We know the crippling effects that gang activities are having in some of our schools. We have been working closely with the police in addressing gang activities,” the Minister said.
“Point out those members to the police, work with the police in implementing diversionary tactics, have the police sit them down and, if you have to separate them by moving them from the class, use all the strategies at your disposal to ensure that those groupings with anti-social intent do not exist in your schools,” he urged the administrators.
The Minister also reminded the students that there was little to prevent them from becoming leaders in the future, once they are focused.
“You are the future of this country. This is the institution that is going to help you to fulfill the promise. So, there is no write-off of any student, regardless of where you come from,” he assured them.
After meeting with the leadership of the institution, teachers and other member of staff, Mr. Holness told JIS News that the school has seen improvements in major examinations, and that his ministry, through the security in school initiative, will see how best to support it in dealing with students who need more than normal intervention.
“We will be looking at how we can support the school in dealing with those students who, clearly, would require greater support than normal,” he told JIS News.
“There needs to be greater work with the community. Community support is critical for any school, so part of the things that we have asked for is the rebuilding of the stakeholder relationship with the police, with the communities and with the parents,” he said.
By GARFIELD L. ANGUS, JIS Reporter