TUTTA president Martin Lum Kin –
Teachers are becoming increasingly concerned about their welfare and that of their students and support staff due to several incidents of shootings on or near school compounds, says TT Unified Teachers’ Association president Martin Lum Kim.
In a release on Friday, he said teachers felt safe during school hours as the gates were closed and the schools had security officer. But they were uncomfortable before and after school hours.
“Our members are feeling quite nervous, uneasy, because they don’t know if anything can happen to them while going to the school or within the school.”
On April 28, a school safety officer was confronted by two men, one armed with a gun at the Belmont Secondary School. The intruders escaped through a hole in the school’s fence.
On May 1, farmer Ronnie Pierre was shot and killed while one man was knocked down by an SUV and another was chopped on his left wrist during an attack behind the Munroe Road Hindu Primary School, in Bejucal, Cunupia.
Then, on May 18, a man who was shot escaped his attackers by running through the compound of Providence Girls’ Catholic School in Belmont.
“There are other areas throughout Trinidad where there are teachers who are uneasy. There are areas in Central, there are areas in Laventille, and quite recently last term we had shootings close by Rose Hill RC Primary School.”
He was referring to an incident in September, last year, where a student of the school were left traumatised as warring gang factions traded bullets near the school.
Lum Kim said, for the moment, dedicated teachers were not considering stopping teaching because they realised education was essential for youths, especially those in “hotspots,” to progress in life.
“However, when you have external forces that are playing down on them in terms of health, safety and security, they feel sometimes helpless because they are not afforded the minimum standard of security that they need.
“They also feel a sense like the ministry, especially the Ministry of Education, is not focussing on them as they should, not only in security, but also in terms of providing resources for teaching and learning.”
He added that, in the past, criminal elements had respect for educators and others in authority but that was no longer the case and it was a source of worry for TTUTA and the education system.