More disorder uncovered at Tranquillity Government

A teacher who is al­leged to have used abu­sive lan­guage to­wards pupils of the Tran­quil­li­ty Gov­ern­ment Pri­ma­ry School has been told to stay away from the class­rooms for the rest of the week and will be served with sus­pen­sion pa­pers by the end of the week.

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter An­tho­ny Gar­cia vis­it­ed the school yes­ter­day and said he was “very con­cerned and very dis­turbed” by the types of re­ports and com­plaints that have sur­faced.

 

This comes days af­ter a se­ries of voice record­ings—al­leged to be that of a Stan­dard Five teacher— was post­ed on­line in which ver­bal threats, racist rants and dis­parag­ing com­ments were di­rect­ed to the pupils and their par­ents.

Dur­ing the im­promp­tu vis­it to the school at the cor­ner of Stan­more Av­enue and Tra­garete Road yes­ter­day, Gar­cia told the me­dia that the teacher had been re­moved from the class­room as stu­dents con­tin­ue to be coun­selled by five of­fi­cials from the Stu­dent Sup­port Ser­vices Di­vi­sion.

Gar­cia said the teacher would be pre­sent­ed with a Cease To Re­port let­ter by the end of this week.

How­ev­er, un­til such time, he said arrange­ments have been made for the teacher to op­er­ate from the staff room.

he in­stru­ment which would have to be is­sued by the Teach­ing Ser­vice Com­mis­sion (TSC) would in­form the teacher of the type of ac­tion be­ing tak­en against her and the im­me­di­ate con­se­quences as fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tions take place.

He ex­plained, “If that is the type of be­hav­iour that is be­ing car­ried out by a teacher which we con­sid­er to be a threat to the safe­ty of our stu­dents and the safe­ty of all those who op­er­ate in the school on a dai­ly ba­sis, we have to en­sure every­one is safe.”

Al­though the teacher was said to be present at the school yes­ter­day, Gar­cia de­nied speak­ing with her as it meant he could be ac­cused of con­t­a­m­i­nat­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Dur­ing the two-hour vis­it, Gar­cia met with the school’s prin­ci­pal and the dis­trict’s school su­per­vi­sors from whom he re­ceived trou­bling re­ports about var­i­ous is­sues af­fect­ing the school in­clud­ing the poor per­for­mance of some teach­ers; a gen­er­al lethar­gy that per­vades the school; and the ad­min­is­tra­tion of cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment to stu­dents.

Ac­com­pa­nied by the Chief Ed­u­ca­tion Of­fi­cer Har­ri­lal Seecha­ran; Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary Lenore Bap­tiste-Sim­mons; Ad­vi­sor Cheryl Ann Wilkin­son and oth­er of­fi­cials, Gar­cia said he was per­plexed by re­ports that there were some mem­bers of staff who, “don’t seem to be able to con­form to the reg­u­lar stan­dards of good per­for­mance.”

He said is­sues of late com­ing, ab­sen­teeism, pri­vate lessons by teach­ers on the school’s com­pound, and the ad­min­is­ter­ing of cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment to stu­dents were chief among the prob­lems now be­ing re­port­ed at the school.

Ad­di­tion­al­ly, he said it was clear that school of­fi­cials were not ad­her­ing to the school-based man­age­ment sys­tem that had been put in place for such is­sues to be re­port­ed.

Fol­low­ing the meet­ing, Gar­cia said, “We got from them a re­port of all the ac­tiv­i­ties at the school and that re­port has left us very con­cerned and very dis­turbed be­cause it seems to us, apart from the rants of that teacher…that there is a gen­er­al feel­ing of in­dis­ci­pline among not on­ly stu­dents but teach­ing staff.”

In­di­cat­ing he was not one to un­fair­ly chas­tise teach­ers, Gar­cia said yes­ter­day’s meet­ing had left of­fi­cials, “with a painful feel­ing in our stom­achs at what tran­spired at this school and what has been tran­spir­ing”.

He said two teach­ers were found to have breached reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing the cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment of stu­dents and were now be­ing asked to sub­mit rea­sons why dis­ci­pli­nary ac­tion should not be tak­en against them.

Fur­ther to this, an­oth­er teacher yes­ter­day ex­hib­it­ed a cer­tain lev­el of hos­til­i­ty and dis­re­spect to the min­is­ter af­ter he re­quest­ed all staff mem­bers to meet with him.

The fe­male teacher raised her voice and de­mand­ed not to be pho­tographed by the me­dia as she walked out of the room, de­spite an at­tempt by Gar­cia to calm her down.

 

 

In Feb­ru­ary of 2001, the then Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Kam­la Per­sad-Bisses­sar pi­o­neered leg­is­la­tion which led to a ban on cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment in schools.

Ac­cord­ing to the Unit­ed Glob­al Ini­tia­tive, “Cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment of chil­dren breach­es their fun­da­men­tal hu­man rights to re­spect for hu­man dig­ni­ty and phys­i­cal in­tegri­ty.”

Re­gard­ing the prac­tice by some teach­ers to con­duct pri­vate af­ter-school lessons on the com­pound, Gar­cia said, “This is con­trary to the reg­u­la­tions by the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion and even the Ed­u­ca­tion Act which pro­hibits teach­ers from charg­ing for any ser­vice that he or she is giv­ing to our stu­dents.”

In an im­me­di­ate re­sponse to this, he said they would meet with the Di­rec­tor of School Su­per­vi­sion and the School Su­per­vi­sors to, “En­sure some of these short­com­ings are cor­rect­ed as soon as pos­si­ble.”

Claim­ing the school had pre­vi­ous­ly been a shin­ing ex­am­ple to oth­er gov­ern­ment-run in­sti­tu­tions, Gar­cia said the prob­lem now lay with the school’s lead­er­ship and this had to be cor­rect­ed.

He said, “The School Su­per­vi­sor has told us that she would be mak­ing cer­tain rec­om­men­da­tions with re­spect to deal­ing with this prob­lem of poor lead­er­ship and she would have the sup­port of us.”

“Some of the things we learnt to­day has been go­ing on for some time with­out our knowl­edge,” he said.

Al­though he re­fused to say sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions could be hap­pen­ing at oth­er schools, the min­is­ter said they were hope­ful the school-based man­age­ment sys­tem had proven to be more ef­fec­tive in oth­er schools.

Asked to re­in­force the min­istry’s pol­i­cy re­gard­ing the use of cell­phones in schools, Seecha­ran con­firmed it was not be­ing ad­hered to at this par­tic­u­lar school.

He said, “There is some flex­i­bil­i­ty with­in schools for them to come up with a strat­e­gy so, in many of our sec­ondary schools, cell­phones were lodged with the ad­min­is­tra­tion dur­ing the day and col­lect­ed in the evening.”

“I am not fa­mil­iar with the spe­cif­ic pol­i­cy in this school but it seems to me, it’s a breach of the nor­mal pol­i­cy and op­er­at­ing guide­lines with­in the school to have stu­dents hav­ing cell­phones in the class­room.”

Par­ents of some of the af­fect­ed stu­dents in­di­cat­ed dis­be­lief and said they had even dis­missed their chil­dren’s con­cerns re­gard­ing the teacher’s be­hav­iour be­fore the record­ings went vi­ral.

Reporter: Anna-Lisa Paul

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