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Review school security now

Published: 
Friday, February 23, 2018
Parents fume at Jordan Hill:
Kerryann Balchan, centre, and other parents of students attending Jordan Hill Presbyterian Primary School, wait for a meeting with the principal at the school yesterday. PICTURE KRISTIAN DE SILVA

Fearful for their children’s lives, irate parents of Jordan Hill Presbyterian School yesterday demanded that Government review security arrangements at all primary schools, saying one guard per school was woefully inadequate.

More than 80 per cent of students and teachers turned up for classes yesterday, and despite the armed robbery of a trainee teacher on the compound the day before there was still only one guard on duty.

This angered parents, who said they were reluctant to send their children to school until better security arrangements were put in place. Parent Kerryann Lalchan said, “I did not send my daughter to school today. She was too afraid. I came today to see what they are saying about security. After that I am leaving and I am taking my children with me.”

Rachel Mohammed also said she was afraid for her child’s security.

“If a robber can walk into the school and rob a teacher on the compound what is stopping this from happening again. We want some answers,” Mohammed said.

Following a mid-morning meeting, the parents decided to pool their money together to pay for an additional security guard after being told the Ministry of Education could not immediately hire another guard.

Parents/Teachers Association vice president Aqueela Khan said, “We have written to the ministry asking for security and parents have committed to donating some money to hire a guard in the interim. Two parents have also agreed to volunteer their services free of charge to man the two back entrances on mornings and on afternoons.”

She said discussions were also held to install security cameras at the school and officers from the Princes Town Police Station had agreed to do additional patrols during school hours so parents can feel a sense of security.

Meanwhile, Presbyterian Primary School Board general secretary Aphzal Ackbarali says they are planning a meeting soon to discuss the matter.

“The Ministry of Education provided counselling to staff and students and the Presbyterian Church is also ready to provide support,” Ackbarali said.

But Association of Denominational Boards president Sharon Mangaroo said the ministry must move forward to improving security in all schools because of the worsening crime situation. She said instead of providing just one officer, the ministry should review each school individually and based on the population, location and other related factors and assign a specific number of guards.

Contacted yesterday, Education Minister Anthony Garcia said it was important to adhere “to security protocol to ensure that instances such as those that occurred at Jordan Hill Presbyterian School and Ste Madeleine Secondary School do not recur in the future.”

“While we can never predict when incidents like these may occur, we have planned and put thought into safety and security protocol at the nation’s schools to mitigate the extent to which our teachers and students would be affected if something does happen. Both incidents have called for a thorough investigation into the school’s administration and implementation of the aforementioned procedures. The ministry will be working closely with the T&T Police Service,” Garcia said.

On Wednesday shortly before school began, an unmasked gunman walked up to a trainee teacher and robbed her of her Nissan Frontier pickup. The vehicle was recovered at Katleen Crescent, Block Four, Palmiste around 2 pm yesterday by PC Ragoonath and James. It bore false license plates. However, the bandit remains at large.

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