JIS News

Minister of Education, Andrew Holness, has said that school Principals and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), would be collaborating much more, to ensure a smoother flow of information between them, to enable the police to respond to incidents involving students, more effectively.
“I think one of the problems we face, is that many things are happening, but they are not being reported to the formal law enforcement system, so that they can have a proper evaluation of the situation. So, we have now sent out to all the schools, contact numbers for all the ground Commanders, the Officers in charge and local Commanders of the Security Forces, so that they can exchange information and the Principals can, from what they are picking up from their schools, pass this on to the police, so they can do their own evaluation, and better direct their resources to deal with these problems,” he told JIS News in an interview.
This collaboration between the Police and Principals, is part of the Ministry’s efforts to address the recent cases of brutal attacks on the nation’s children. The Minister sought to assure that children are relatively safe in school. “In fact, they are safer in schools than in public places, and sometimes even safer than at their homes, and I am doing my best to ensure that our Principals have a culture of safety and security ingrained in their minds, that they realise that this is now a function of management, and they have to execute it like any other management function,” Mr. Holness stressed.
“We are trying to change the culture to one that is pro-active when it comes to safety and security, but the Ministry of Education stops essentially, when the children leave the school. I am trying to extend that as far as possible to deal with children in uniform, in public places, but it has to be a co-operative effort between all the other stakeholders that deal with public order and public safety,” he pointed out.
The Minister explained that it is the Principals’ response, as leaders, that would dictate, “how quickly we get over this crisis,” adding that he does not want Principals to panic. “I don’t want them to start to take dramatic action, like cutting off extra lessons, or closing down the schools. If we do that, then the criminals and terrorists in our society would have won,” he pointed out.
He suggested that the children be brought into the discussions about safety and security, so that they too, can understand. “that they can’t leave school, go and idle at the bus stop; that they have to have a greater sense of awareness. So, this is what I would want our Principals to do, rather than to take action that would shorten our contact time with the students.”
“I have received all kinds of reports from parents and from students themselves, about how it has affected them emotionally, the level of anxiety and panic. We are trying to do everything possible, within my powers, within the schools, to ensure that our children remain safe,” Mr. Holness said.
The Minister advised that the Ministry has issued bulletins to schools, outlining security and safety guidelines, and is also conducting islandwide consultations with Education Officers, with the aim of getting them to understand and appreciate the importance of these guidelines.

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