Friday 17 November, 2017

Safety and health in schools should be priority

FILE - President of the Barbados National Council of Parent Teacher Associations (BNCPTA), Shone Gibbs.

FILE - President of the Barbados National Council of Parent Teacher Associations (BNCPTA), Shone Gibbs.

The health and safety of both students and teachers should be a top priority in schools.

This assertion came from the President of the Barbados National Council of Parent Teacher Associations (BNCPTA), Shone Gibbs.

In light of a call from the President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) Mary Redman recently to conduct random bag searches on school premises in order to alleviate some of the fear felt by teachers and students following incidents last academic year, Gibbs said he supports initiatives that will help.

Neither throwing his support behind nor refusing to lend his voice to the effort to implement bag searches, he instead told Loop News:

“The safety of students and staff is of utmost importance and any initiative that would lend to that safety and ensure the safety of the critical majority is something that, on a case-by-case basis, I believe the principal and management of the school would determine the best policy.”

Gibbs said that violence amongst youth and in schools must be approached holistically. He repeated his stance that violence may manifest itself in school but “these things are bred within the homes and communities."

"We have to first go back to the home situation," he said. "Yes, I agree we have a minority of our students colouring the situation in a negative light. There needs to be serious intervention to help those persons and assist as much as possible and realign them to their purpose, and not wasting the education opportunities for them and other students.”

With regard to the health of the staff and students, he responded to the fact that some of the island’s public schools were not fit to reopen on Monday, September 11, when the 2017-2018 academic school year was to commence.

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He sided with the Barbados Union of Teachers’ President Pedro Shepherd saying that the summer vacation should be used strategically to complete all construction.

Gibbs said that Shepherd’s suggestion of having schools ready at least two weeks prior to the start of the year would be “ideal” but he said that realistically, “We must find a way to achieve the repairs within the nine-week vacation so there is no further dislocation and loss of very productive teaching time.”