Education Minister Anthony Garcia said pranksters will not be allowed to disrupt the administration of CSEC and CAPE examinations. Stricter security measures have been introduced following email messages sent out overnight about bombs being planted at several secondary schools across the country.
Speaking from his office at the Education Tower, Port-of-Spain, earlier today Garcia assured students and parents that there is nothing to panic about.
He said: “Very early this morning I received a call from one of the principals of a school stating that she received an email threat yesterday evening, saying that a bomb would be placed in the school bag of one of the students and if a certain sum of money was not paid by 10 am today, then the bomb would be detonated.
“As a result, there would chaos in schools.”
While he did not identify the principal he spoke with, Garcia said Cyber Crime and Canine Units were alerted and officers with sniffer dogs began visiting schools from as early as 6 am today to so detailed searches of premises, students and arriving school officials.
In a release this morning, the Education Ministry identified two of the schools as St. Joseph’s Convent, Port-of-Spain and St. Joseph’s Convent, St. Joseph.
There was an unconfirmed report that a similar threat had been received by officials at St. George’s College, Barataria.
However, this was debunked by Garcia who said: “While we felt this was an isolated incident, we learnt further that very many other schools have been affected and the principals, in accordance with the procedures that have been developed, have contacted the police and they are doing searches to ensure there is no device that can cause any disruption of exams.
“It is my feeling that this had been deliberately done to affect the smooth running of the exams. It is only somebody with a deranged mind would think of such an action and that has to be condemned.”
The minister warned perpetrators of this crime would feel the full brunt of the law whenever they are caught. He appealed to parents and students to remain calm.
“Examinations are being written as normal so they have not succeeded with their devious plan,” he said.
The father of a student attending St. George’s College confirmed he was asked to pick up his daughter around 10 am, while the mother of a child attending a Catholic primary school in Port-of-Spain confirmed a similar move by school authorities. The two said they were told action was taken in the interest of the children’s safety.
Principal at St. Joseph’s Convent, Port-of-Spain. Anna Pounder told parents and guardians: “Acting on information received, the school authorities contacted the relevant authorities and passed it on to them. The Police visited the school yesterday and this morning officers of the Special Branch and Canine Unit did a thorough sweep of every area. The school has been declared safe and we are continuing with class and exams.”
The email threat sent to principals stated:
“This message is to EVERYONE. On Friday 24th May 2019 we are sending a student with a bomb. The bomb will go off at 10 am if you do not send $100,000 TTD to email@example.com. If you do not send the money! We will blow up the device. If you try to call the police WE WILL BLOWUP THE DEVICE ON SPOT. ANY attempt at DEFUSING it yourself will cause it to explode!”