16 schools at high risk of violence

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Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly.

A report presented by the Ministry of Education for its second interdisciplinary team meeting on school violence on Monday identified 16 high-risk schools.

A statement said Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly met with a cross-section of other ministers, including National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds; Minister of Youth Development and National Service (MYDNS) Foster Cummings; Ayanna Webster Roy, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office responsible for gender and children’s affairs, together with their technical teams and the TTPS community policing.

The team reviewed the report to identify trends and analyze some of the fundamental occasional factors that contribute to school indiscipline and violence.

He said the 16 schools in the report exhibit at least two of the following characteristics:

  • a high percentage of first-year students scoring less than 30% on Secondary School Entrance Examinations (SEAs)
  • high levels of indiscipline
  • high absenteeism rate
  • low levels of completion of the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC).

He said at least seven of the schools had all the characteristics.

“Today’s meeting focused on reviewing the current systems and procedures in place to reduce school violence, and also identified specific schools with high levels of violence, and profiles of individual students who have been repeatedly suspended,” the statement read.

Recommendations were reportedly made to improve the effectiveness of measures to reduce school violence through the collaborative use of resources available across government agencies and ministries.

He indicated after taking note of the recommendations that the Ministry will invite the above-mentioned Ministers, as well as the Secretary of the Education, Research and Innovation Division of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) , to appoint two representatives to the team.

He said the team will review and revise existing school violence reduction policy.

“There is a need to resolve the issue immediately – and it is in this context that the team is asked to make its recommendations for policy change,” Gadsby-Dolly said.

The statement also said the ministry will interrogate the criteria used to define high-risk schools and compile more “granular” data on the type of support needed by students whose actions identify them as needing attention. Resource issues, he said, will also be addressed.