|KINDERGARTEN COPS |
By Andre Bagoo Saturday, February 27 2016
POLICE will patrol not only secondary schools but also pre-schools and primary schools, in a bid to maintain law and order and protect the nation’s youths and teachers, Minister of National Security Edmund Dillon said yesterday.
Speaking in the House of Representatives, Parliament Chamber, International Waterfront Centre in Port-of-Spain, Minister Dillon indicated police will maintain a presence not only at secondary schools through the long-standing Community Policing Unit, but beyond.
“Officers will continue to visit and patrol not just secondary schools but pre-schools, primary schools and tertiary-level institutions throughout Trinidad and Tobago,” the Minister said during Question Time.
“Honourable members can rest assured that the community policing officers and by extension the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, will continue to fulfil their obligations to communities and the population at large, by collaborating with educational organisations to improve relationships with youths in the community,” Dillon said.
He added that the mandate of the Community Policing Unit of each Division of the Police Service already requires officers to conduct patrols to schools in their district, “a practice that has been done, is being done and will continue so to be.” In addition to patrols, Community Policing officers also visit schools and engage students via lectures and discussions.
“The Community Policing Secretariat, under the ambit of the TT Police Service, is pursuing a comprehensive approach to Community Policing in 2016 and beyond,” the Minister said.
He said some of the key activities being undertaken by the divisional Community Policing Units, as laid out in the TT Police Service 2016 operational plan include: structuring and expanding the primary school support project to a targeted number of schools in each police geographical division; strengthening the school support system by assigning a police officer to each selected secondary school who will act as a liaison officer; and continuing the school intervention programme which includes an expansion of the anti-bullying campaign.
The Minister was, however, unable to say, on average, how many visits are made.
ACUTE STAFF SHORTAGE Also during Question Time, Minister of Education Anthony Garcia said there was a shortage of disciplinary deans at schools.
“There are not sufficient deans of discipline in secondary schools based on student populations,” Garcia said. He said Cabinet, in September 1999, September 2004, and October 2008, agreed to the establishment of 577 Dean positions in secondary schools in Trinidad and 28 in Tobago. Only 42 secondary schools, he said, are “adequately staffed”, based on a ratio of one dean to 200 students.
He said there are 245 vacancies existing in 83 secondary schools in Trinidad, and 13 vacancies in five of the nine secondary schools. He said advertisements for dean vacancies had recently been advertised and appointments by the Teaching Service Commission are envisaged by June.
The Minister also said there are 260 guidance counsellors.
One counselor is permanently assigned to each secondary school and one officer supports four primary schools on a weekly basis.
A total of 134 social workers provide service at a ratio of one officer to five schools at both the primary and secondary levels.
These officers “visit schools once per fortnight on a regular basis”; on referrals by schools; and can be accessed easily by telephone when the need arises.
He 197 staff members provide for students with special needs.
These disclosures came as Parliament yesterday considered a private motion, tabled by Tabaquite MP Dr Suruj Rambachan, on the impact of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in schools.
Rambachan said he had ADHD and called for an examination of how violence in schools may have deeper causes.
“On a daily basis there are children falling through the cracks because they have ADHD and teachers have not been trained... to manage a child who has ADHD in their classroom,” the Tabaquite MP said.
“A lot of children are ending up on the wrong side of the law because their condition is not appreciated.” He further stated, “I don’t believe in corporal punishment in school, I believe in strict discipli