The Ministry of Education will be beefing up security at the Success/Laventille Secondary School amid fears for the safety of students and staff.
This follows the latest in a series of violent incidents in the vicinity of the school which is located between warring gang territories. Last Wednesday, a gun battle between criminals resulted the school’s wall and a nearby vehicle being riddled with bullets. This has led to calls for the school to be relocated.
In statement yesterday, the Education Ministry acknowledged concerns about the safety of students and teachers.
“Recognising that the pursuit of a quality education can be hindered if teaching and learning is compromised for fear of safety, the Government has decided on a whole government approach in treating with this matter.
“The Ministry of Education is continuing discussions with the Ministry of National Security surrounding augmented plans for safety of the school’s compound and wider community for the new school term. The safety of all citizens is of paramount importance and all possible interferences with the delivery of education will be expeditiously removed,” the Ministry said.
According to the statement, efforts have been ongoing through the Laventille/Morvant Schools’ Improvement Project (LMSIP) to change the dialogue and build bridges between the various communities in the Laventille/Morvant area
“One of the challenges faced by many of the schools within the Laventille/Morvant area surrounds border issues. At the Ministry and through the Schools’ Improvement Project a focus has been placed on uniting the communities through education,” the Ministry added.
However, the statement continued, while Education Minister Anthony Garcia understands calls from citizens to have the school moved this “is not a possible solution.”
“This is why the Ministry, through projects and programmes and in conjunction with the Ministry of National Security will do everything possible to allay the fears attached to this school. Success/Laventille is an excellent school that has been doing great work and we will do everything in our power to ensure that students are not short changed in their pursuit of education,” the ministry said, adding that the school has served the community well for many years.
This is not the first time there have been concerns about safety at Success/Laventille Secondary. In late 2014, security at the school was tightened following the murder of a student, Salim Dalzell, 17, who was shot and killed as he stood outside the school gate.
In January 2016, students Mark Richards, 16 and Denelson Smith, 17, were killed on upper Picton Road. The teens were on their way home on a taxi when gunmen stopped the vehicle, ordered all of the occupants out, then shot the two boys
The ministry said school’s ease of access to public transportation, walking distance for many students within the area and the proximity to Port-of-Spain has been critical in its continued success.
It added: “During the vacation period Success/Laventille Secondary School along with Excel Beetham Estate Government Primary School and Morvant/Laventille Secondary Success, will be used as homes to the vacation camps taking place as a part of the Laventille/Morvant Schools’ Improvement Project.”