The Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation. (FP)

The Ministry of Education has assured the island’s teachers that their concerns about school violence and recommendations to deal with the issue will be taken on board.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, June Chandler, and Chief Education Officer, Karen Best, met with the executive of the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU), led by its president, Mary Redman, and shop stewards from primary and secondary schools today to discuss the challenges teachers were facing.

The Permanent Secretary told the gathering that the Ministry was concerned about the rise in violent incidents in schools, terming the situation “totally unacceptable”.

She explained that the Ministry’s approach was to meet with all the stakeholders to engage in dialogue and it was particularly important that the experiences of teachers “who were in the trenches” every day were heard.

She shared that she would also be meeting with representatives of the Barbados Union of Teachers and the National Council of Parent Teachers Association. In addition, Minister of Education, Ronald Jones, will meet with school principals next week.

BSTU president, Mary Redman, reported that teachers were “emotionally drained, frustrated and angry” and looked forward to hearing the Ministry’s plans to address the situation.

She noted that the BSTU had already forwarded some recommendations to the Ministry which came out of a February 14 meeting of its membership and additional recommendations would be forwarded.

At today’s meeting, teachers suggested several ways to address the issue, including a comprehensive review of the syllabuses in both primary and secondary schools. They submitted that the curriculum was at the core of much of the frustration and low self-esteem exhibited by some students.

Other suggestions included an examination of the transfer method from primary to secondary school; mandatory searches of students by guards before entering school premises; an examination of the system of suspension to allow for counselling; the introduction of mentoring programmes for at-risk students; and parenting programmes.

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