SEPoS teachers afraid to return to school
By Rachael Espinet Tuesday, September 2 2014
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DANGER ZONE: South East Port-of-Spain Secondary School...
Teachers of South-East Port-of-Spain Secondary School on Nelson Street are fearful of returning to school today for the new school year. This was revealed yesterday by Davanand Sinanan, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA).
“South-East Port-of-Spain is cause for serious concern from TTUTA. Teachers refuse to report for duty tomorrow (today). Too many of them refuse to risk their lives. Teachers and students often have to lie on the floor when they hear gunshots,” Sinanan said.
Gunshots, gunmen running into the school and gang activity occurring both in and out of the school’s grounds Sinanan said, makes South-East a dangerous place for both students and teachers. Sinanan said the school needs more security guards and police patrols around the area.
Fearing for their lives, Sinanan said approximately a dozen teachers told TTUTA they refuse to report for duty in an unsafe environment. He said some teachers are traumatised and are even seeking counselling.
“That is not the kind of atmosphere we want for our teachers and students to operate,” Sinanan said.
There has been a call by the teachers to have the school removed, but that is a time-consuming and bureaucratic process Sinanan said. He told Newsday the school is a good thing for the community and is a high performing school that brings pride to the residents.
Primary schools in the area experience similar problems, but Sinanan said it was not as bad as South-East. He explained that some secondary students from South-East are also part of the gangs, and they bring in drugs and other illegal material into the school, thus bringing the danger into the school compound. In the primary schools Sinanan said they are yet to have that problem.
Insufficient guards is another problem the school faces. Sinanan said the gates are manned by two unarmed female guards. He is calling for police officers and other members of the protective services to be placed at the school to help protect the students and teachers.
“We have been begging the authorities to provide police officers to secure the entire area around the school. Sometimes we would get the police officers for two days and then that is it,” Sinanan said.
TTUTA is now calling on the Ministry of Education to have a meeting with the union, the Ministry of National Security, the National Parent-Teacher Association (NPTA) and other stakeholders to put a framework in place.