The T&T Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) is calling for an investigation after a Fyzabad Secondary School student was injured by three people who entered the school compound after hours and attacked him on Monday.
South Western Division police yesterday confirmed an incident involving a student at the school but reported that it was minor. School sources meanwhile said the incident happened after school hours and no one suffered severe injury, adding that only a handful of students were around at the time.
TTUTA president Martin Lum Kin told Guardian Media that the schoolboy suffered a stab wound during an attack by three people who were in street clothing. He said it happened around 2.50 pm.
Lum Kin said the incident raised serious concerns for TTUTA, as there was a breach of school security. Although school had already been dismissed, he said, the school facilitates several community activities. He noted, however, that there should be protocols and procedures governing this to mitigate security risks or threats to everyone on the compound.
Lum Kin also noted that only two or three security officers were present during the attack. He said he hoped the Ministry of Education (MoE) would investigate the incident, especially as it had some semblance of gang violence, given that three young men breached security to attack a student, and could well be found to be a criminal act.
However, Lum Kin said, young people were witnessing the ills of society, adding the authorities must be mindful and take steps to ensure young people did not follow gang activities.
“TTUTA calls on the relevant authority, the Ministry of Education, to ensure that schools are well-equipped with security guards. Thankfully, the school safety officer was present at the time to render assistance to the injured student,” Lum Kin said.
Lum Kin said these incidents of continued violence among students also worried teachers.
Noting there was a weapon involved, he recalled that teachers got injured while trying to break up fights in the past. He thus cautioned teachers to calculate the risks before they attempted to break up fights. He said teachers should instead alert security guards and safety officers to deal with violent incidents.
“Teachers would normally intervene in incidents of fights, violence and indiscipline. It is because teachers instinctively will intervene. However, they will have to be cautious because of the risks they will be taking because there may be weapons,” Lum Kin said.
Contacted yesterday, Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly confirmed a group of adults attacked a student at the school. She said the school gates were open to allow cars to pass.
Gadsby-Dolly said police were investigating the matter. Initial reports suggested the attack stemmed from a robbery over the Carnival period, resulting in a standoff between two communities and recent fights at Fyzabad junction.
“In response to this, the Fyzabad Secondary School made arrangements for the school maxi to pick up students on the compound after dismissal. It led to persons seeking to fight entering the school. The student involved in the incident sustained an injury to his right arm in the physical altercation and was taken for medical attention,” Gadsby-Dolly said.
Gadsby-Dolly said following incidents like these, Student Support Services Division personnel assigned to the school would assist students who require counselling and support.
Last year, the MoE collaborated with the T&T Police Service to quell school violence, with police patrolling in and around 17 schools, particularly at the end of the school day. Police also investigated any violent acts among students.
While many schools are not part of a group targeted for special attention due to issues of violence, Lum Kin said all police stations should increase patrols around secondary schools at the end of the school day regardless of their reputation to ensure peace and manage traffic congestion when parents and school transportation arrive to pick up children. He said the TTPS, Ministries of Education and National Security and the schools should collaborate to deal with school violence.