BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday November 13, 2019 – The Ministry of Education in Barbados is looking at introducing hand held scanners and random spot checks at a secondary school where a 16-year-old student was stabbed to death by a 15-year-old on the compound last week. And other schools could also be in line for those measures.
The disclosure was made by Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw during a press conference at the Erdiston Teachers’ Training College where teachers from the Frederick Smith Secondary School received counselling throughout the day.
Some of the students are scheduled to return to the school, on the country’s West Coast, from tomorrow. Others return the following day, and the remainder next Monday.
“One of the concerns that have been expressed [by teachers] is a major challenge in relation to the school plants in terms of security issues. We have looked at not metal detectors in the strict sense of the word in terms of framed metal detectors, but we are exploring the hand detectors as an option particularly for the return to school on Thursday,” Minister Bradshaw said.
“We want to ensure that the plant is safe at this stage. While this tragedy has happened, I can give no assurances to the country that students may not have weapons on them next week. Therefore, it is important persons who have to work in the environment as well as students who are not engaged in such activities in terms of possession of weapons, feel comfortable and their parents must feel comfortable coming back to the Frederick Smith School.”
The Education Minister further indicated that the hand held scanners could be introduced at other schools which have been experiencing challenges with deviant behaviour.
She said the Boards of Management as well as the principals of these schools were reviewing the issue to determine if the scanners would be required. However, Bradshaw cautioned that it was not a case of “one fit for all”.
“…There are some schools that have greater challenges than others and as a precautionary measure, I think that time has now come where we will have to consider spot checks and random searches as well as ensuring that at least the points of entry are properly secured to make sure that the limit – not that we can in any way ever prevent these types of incidents from happening because as we discussed with the police today, anything can become a weapon.
“There is nothing we can do to completely eliminate the possibility of any violent act taking place but there are some precautions that we can take across the system to try to reduce the number of incidences like [the one at Frederick Smith],” she said.
She added that the Ministry owed it “to all concerned” to take the necessary steps to weed out deviant behaviour.
And she said the Royal Barbados Police Force would be working with the Ministry to address the issues affecting not just Frederick Smith Secondary but several other schools in relation to frequent patrols, possession of weapons by students and a general police presence.
Bradshaw said this would send “the very strong message” that violence would not be tolerated in any form at educational institutions.
She also warned parents that their failure to work with the Ministry and schools was not in the best interest of their children, and stressed that cooperation from all stakeholders was needed to arrest violence.
“Parents also must see themselves as equal stakeholders in this exercise. We need to have a situation in this country where there is greater vigilance of our students. We have to ensure that we have greater participation in the Parent/Teacher Associations and when the principals and others call parents to find out what is happening with students, I am asking you as parents to ensure that you attend the institution to find out what is going on to be able to find solutions to any problems the students may be encountering,” the Minister implored.
Bradshaw said it was the goal of the Ministry of Education to “do all within our power to ensure that an incident of this nature does not recur again in the history of this country”.