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Guidelines to be put in place to protect children – Minister

Guidelines to be put in place to protect children – Minister

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The ban placed by the Ministry of Education on loud music at school fairs, school field trips to picnic sites close to the sea or rivers and school boat rides is temporary.

According to Minister of Education St Clair “Jimmy” Prince, the Ministry will soon issue a number of guidelines relating to these{{more}} things.

According to a circular sent out by chief education officer Lou Anne Gilchrist, dated May 20 and addressed to the heads of all educational institutions, the violent actions and tragic incidents which have occurred recently at school related events and outings are cause for great concern and as a result, the Ministry of Education has suspended, until further notice, school fairs involving disc jockeys and loud music, school field trips to picnic sites close to the sea or rivers and boat rides for fund-raising or simple leisure.

But in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday, Prince stressed that the circular sent out by the Ministry is not a permanent solution to the issues, but a temporary thing, because of security issues and other problems that surround school fairs and students leaving the school compound to engage in school related activities.

“The officials in the Ministry, along with the police, decided to take a step back and look at the situation properly and see what kind of guidelines and policies could be put in place for the safety of the children.

“It (the circular) wasn’t saying it would ban all school fairs for good, but we have to sit down and look at the situation and see how you can improve on the security situation; that is what the circular was meant to say and why it was sent out,” said Prince, who noted that the circular was issued after discussion with the police.

The education minister noted also that around this time of year, the police are stretched thin because of Carnival and other events, “so, therefore, you can’t really depend on the police to provide the type of security you would want at a fair.”

He said that with a number of violent incidents in the country, the Ministry of Education wants to make sure that children are safe when attending school fairs.

“…the ban is not something that would continue,” stressed Prince, who revealed that consultations will be held with members of the coastguard, the police, parent teacher associations and teachers from both primary and secondary schools.

“We will set up this committee and come up with guidelines for future events and that would be done for the next school term, by September,” said Prince.

“…by the time school reopens you would have a set of guidelines on these issues,” present Prince, who disclosed that he did not see the correspondence before it went out, but said it contained the sentiments of Ministry officials who had discussions with the police prior to making the decision to ban the activities.

“We will seek the input from various stakeholders, students too, and come up with policies and guidelines. We are not waiting until it gets out of hand,” said the Minister.

The suspension of these activities is the Ministry’s response to a recent killing at a school fair and the drowning of two students in separate incidents earlier this year.

After the release of the circular last Monday, several heads of schools called for the decision to be revisted.(LC)

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