The scent of violence and fear hung thick in the air on the “Gaza Strip” in Enterprise last Friday. “They does call here the Gaza Strip.
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Rowley plans boot camps for ‘bad’ students
If Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley becomes Prime Minister, then students who are prone to violent behaviour could see themselves being removed from the school system and placed in an environment akin to a “boot camp” where they can be properly controlled.
Declaring that a People’s National Movement (PNM) government would declare zero tolerance on school violence, Rowley outlined that at an internal election campaign meeting in Palo Seco on Tuesday as one of his party’s strategies to deal with students who were disruptive and put others at risk. He added: “We are prepared to identify the problem and to take action to solve it.
“The time for talk and niceties has passed. If you cannot behave in the school system then you forfeit your right to be there. You have invited yourself into another system.” Referring to the public brawl between girls at the Mucurapo West Secondary School, ten of whom have since been suspended, Rowley asked when the violence would end. “I am hearing tonight, from the mother of a child who was on the ground, this has been going on for two years.
“When is it supposed to end and how is it supposed to end? When one of them bring a little knife or something in school, or a divider or something and the next thing we hear is murder number 110 is one child stab the other child because the system turned a blind eye to something that is chronic. “We will have to intervene and the intervention comes under the banner of zero tolerance to violence in our school system,” he said.
Rowley reminded his audience that one of the slogans of the PNM’s founding father, the late Dr Eric Williams, was: “To educate is to liberate.” He told supporters from the La Brea and bordering constituencies: “Let us not lose sight of this fact that the strength of this country going forward is based on the soundness of our education system. We must no longer allow ourselves to tinker with it.”
Saying he was appalled at the behaviour, Rowley said he would like to see a system where that kind of behaviour deprives the violent students of the opportunity they were abusing. He added: “You should be extracted from the environment where you are misbehaving and put into another environment where you are being prepared to give up that kind of life you want to embark upon.” For this to happen, Rowley said, there must be special educational facilities along with special teachers to manage them.
“The next PNM government will detail zero tolerance of violence in our secondary schools, zero tolerance of any violence in our school system, and that means we will have to prepare special educational facilities for special children. “Special children are not only the ones who don’t see well, who don’t hear well and who don’t walk well. Children who can’t behave well are also special children,” he said.
Rowley said with people demanding a right to misbehave, if a solution is not found, then the Education and National Security Ministries would continue to be a drain on the Treasury.