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Garcia: No armed guards for schools

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Education Minister Anthony Garcia says the ministry doesn’t favour having armed guards at schools.

He confirmed this in Parliament yesterday while replying to Opposition questions on recent incidents of crime in schools.

This followed the incident at the Jordan Hill Presbyterian school, where a gunman walked through the gates of the primary school, held a trainee teacher at gunpoint and drove off with her pick-up on Wednesday morning. Parents and pupils arriving at school at the time witnessed the incident.

Garcia was asked by United National Congress MP Ramona Ramdial what action is being taken to prevent another occurrence of criminal elements entering school compounds to commit criminal offences targeting staff and students.

Garcia said the most important responsibility of a principal was to ensure the safety of students, staff and all within that environment. He said what happened at Jordan Hill was a breach of safety and security. He said the ministry had taken decision to ensure those breaches do not recur.

He added that the ministry is also engaged with stakeholders, including police, to ensure that breaches like that will be a thing of the past.

“And I want to give the assurances to the national community that everything is being done to ensure the safety of all those who occupy our schools,” Garcia said.

UNC MP Rodney Charles asked if one unarmed female guard was sufficient for the Jordan Hill school, which has 25 teachers and 548 students.

“The answer is yes,” Garcia replied

UNC’s Suruj Rambachan asked if there was intention by the ministry or security forces to consider arming security guards at schools, given that the Biche High School had also been robbed in the last 24 hours.

Garcia said arming securing guards has been something which has been on the agenda for a number of years, as there have been similar incidents “going way back.” He said in cases where it’s necessary for a security guard to be provided with a firearm, it must be concealed.

Garcia added,”But as a broad principle, the ministry isn’t favourable to the notion of arming security guards. Our schools musn’t be seen as jails. They must be seen as places where learning and teaching can take place in an environment where it’s conducive to such and where everybody will be able to enjoy themselves.”


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