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5,329 students suspended in 1 year

Saturday, February 27 2016

SUSPENSIONS in the nation’s schools increased from 4,201 in 2014, to 5,329 in 2015, Chief Education Officer Harrilal Seecharan disclosed yesterday after a Joint Select Committee meeting with Ministry of Education officials and members of the Police Service was held to discuss physical and cyber-bullying in schools.

The meeting was held at the Office of the Parliament, International Waterfront Centre, Port-of-Spain.

During the meeting, Seecharan told members of the committee that the increase was related to the Ministry of Education’s policy of zero tolerance on deviant behaviour in schools.

Seecharan was responding to a question posed by Cumuto/ Manzanilla MP Christine Newallo-Hosein, on whether there has been an increase in violence in schools.

Seecharan explained that the suspension of a student was a well-defined process.

“A student can be suspended by the Principal for a maximum of seven days, if it is serious enough, the principal can request an extended suspension, and the minister will normally grant that.

If it is within the seven days, student support services engage the parents in providing counselling, in trying to introduce whatever corrective action.

In the case of extended suspension there is also a defined process where there is a conference between the parent and teachers,” he said.

Newallo-Hosein asked Seecharan whether there was something in the Education Act that does not allow expulsions.

Seecharan said, the Act allowed expulsions, and the Minister has the authority to expel students, but that has not been done in the last ten years.

“I think it comes back to the philosophy that we can rehabilitate students, even if students are suspended, or they go on extended suspension, we still try to work within the system to try and rehabilitate those students,” he said.

Asked by Government senator Nadine Stewart about the prevalence of male on male violence, female on female and male on female violence, Seecharan said according to their data, male on male violence was more prevalent.

In response to a question by Government senator Hafeez Ali on the number of guidance counsellors at schools, manager of the Student Support Services, Dr Kathy Bharrathsingh said there were 151 guidance officers with 13 vacancies, and 98 guidance counsellors with 11 vacancies.



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