President of the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA) Owen Speid has called for soldiers to be deployed at all troubled schools, including Enid Bennett High in Bog Walk, St. Catherine.
He made the comment in an interview with The Beacon following what he described as a ‘courtesy call’ on teachers at Enid Bennett High School yesterday, February 17.
That’s four days after teachers at the school walked off the job in protest against what they said is the indiscipline among students and the school’s inadequate response to the situation.
Speid stated that, partly based on his observation, the school has a big security problem because the compound is relatively large and difficult to man.
He said there are some ‘dangerous’ students smuggling illegal items into the educational institution.
In one incident last month, a male student was caught on the compound with ammunition; he was arrested and charged.
Speid told The Beacon: “There are some things that some of the students carry onto the compound that are illegal; I can’t specifically say what they are at this time. As a result of that, I just believe that maybe they could get some help from soldiers to man that compound.
“They only have three security personnel – it is not security guards; they are like just watchmen, and you are talking about a population of over 1,500 children. That is woefully inadequate; they need a whole heap of help in terms of security… Some dangerous children are there for sure,” added Speid.
He continued: “If there are illegal weapons that they (students) carry there, the soldiers can take them and they will not be a problem – there will not be repercussions. But if the teachers take them, they might be repercussions; the teachers may have to find another place to go.”
The JTA president added that, during his visit, he spoke with Principal Patrick Phillips.
“I had a little talk with the principal at his office; I had a talk too with the PTA president – she came there. More or less, they are saying the same thing; they think they need the help security-wise and they need manpower to help them out with security. It’s a big property and the children are not easily controlled.”
Speid said the deployment of soldiers should not be done only at Enid Bennett High, but at all schools in volatile communities.
He, in the meantime, gave the government a 30-day ultimatum on February 10 to present a plan of action to address violence in schools across the island.
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