Education Minister Anthony Garcia says discipline in the country’s schools is actually improving.
He spoke at yesterday’s launch of the Revised National School Code of Conduct at the Government Campus Plaza Auditorium, Port of Spain.
Garcia lamented the recent alleged beating of a teacher by a pupil at a school in North Trinidad in a row over scratch bombs. “That student has no place in the education system of this country. The rights of the child must not interfere with the rights of the 250,000 students (in TT).”
He was applauded by the audience, comprised teachers, pupils and parents.
“If it comes to me and I find that student is culpable, I’m going to take the ultimate action (alluding to expulsion).” Again, the audience applauded.
Garcia said the media will highlight a negative incident the moment it happens, but pointed out that the country has 700 schools, 14,000 teachers and 250,000 students. “If there are one or two infractions, that doesn’t mean the education system is falling down.”
“The information before me tells me of a drastic decline in incidents of violence and indiscipline in our schools.” He said that when he first took office, almost daily he would receive requests from principals for the extended suspension of errant pupils but over three years he had noticed a big change. “Those requests have been fewer and fewer and fewer. So I say there is a drastic decline in indiscipline and violence.”
Garcia then praised the results of the Laventille/Morvant Initiative built on discipline, literacy, physical enhancement and parental involvement.
Referring to the 25 schools in Laventille/Morvant, he said, “In the school system I have had not one report of principals asking for an extension of suspension.” Thanking the area’s parents, he said, “When parents show an active role in the lives of their children, children progress.” He wished however that parents of errant pupils would attend school PTA meetings. Calling for all to get on board to create a safe learning environment at the nation’s schools, he extended a hand to teachers union TTUTA and urged ministry staff such as school supervisors and curriculum officers to do more visits to schools. Garcia urged guests to read the code.
Talking to reporters later, Garcia said too frequent use of school suspensions could derail a pupil’s studies, especially if done for minor offences such as uniform violations.