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Fight outside Mucurapo school: Extended suspension for female students
The ten female students of the Mucurapo West Government School, St James, who were suspended for one week for fighting outside the school’s compound have been placed on extended suspension. This was confirmed yesterday by Alicia Busby, communications manager for the Ministry of Education. The case conference for the students also were expected to be conducted shortly, Busby added. “The purpose of the case conferences is to facilitate further investigations into the matter and to have some kind of strategic intervention with students and parents or guardians with the intention of addressing their behaviour for improvement,” Busby said. She said the Student Support Services Division of the ministry was also providing counselling where necessary for those students who were adversely affected by the incident. “The district office officials spoke to parents and addressed the PTA and students on that incident and other concerns at the school with the aim of promoting a peaceful and facilitating culture in school,” Busby said.
The fight was captured on a cellphone and posted on various social sites, including Facebook. The female student who was shown being beaten by a gang of other female students of the Mucurapo West Government School, St James, is remaining at home at least until the probe into the matter has been completed. In an interview yesterday the child’s mother Chrislyn Fairbairn said she was awaiting the outcome of the investigation which was still underway. “Right now my daughter just home. She missed all her exams last week because of what happened.
“The ministry advised us that it would be better to wait until the investigation is completed and then apply for the transfer. So I decided to keep her home until the investigation is over then I will decide what we are doing from there,” Fairbairn added.
She said ministry officials told her she would get an update on the matter last Friday but that was not the case. “I sent my husband to the ministry this morning (yesterday) to see what is happening and what is the delay,” Fairbairn said. Saying she was not ruling out the possibility that her daughter would return to the school Fairbairn said that would be done under the condition that the school got a “good shake- up.” “They need to properly clean out that school. Get rid of the bullying and fighting so that children could go and study in peace. “If that is done I would send my daughter back but as it is now I feel it is better for her to get a transfer,” the mother added. Police said they were expected to meet with school officials this week.
President of the T&T Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) Devanand Sinanan reiterated his call yesterday for out-of-school supervision centres to be set up so that suspended students could benefit from counselling while out of school. “The objective is to get help for the suspended students so as to keep them in school and out of trouble,” Sinanan said. He said the ten suspended students were expected back to school this week as a principal could only suspend a child for no more than one week. “So what you may have is a series of suspensions over time,” Sinanan added.
Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh, who spoke yesterday at a consultation on school violence at Rudranath Capildeo Learning Resource Centre (RCLRC), McBean Village, Couva, said the issue of school violence remained an area of great concern. The audience comprised teachers, principals, education specialists, stakeholders and parents. “It obviously is a concern to all of you as parents and to see your children going to school and you not knowing what is going to happen to your child in a school where you have sent the child from home to go to a safe surrounding. “And therefore this safe surrounding is under the Ministry of Education and it is my responsibility to provide a safe surrounding for your children and I will not shirk my responsibility,” Gopeesingh added. Other matters discussed included in-school homework centres for primary and secondary schools, bullying and school discipline, local school boards and improving school infrastructure.