(Trinidad Guardian) Security at the nation’s secondary schools will be beefed up from today’s start of the new term to ensure incidents of violence on school compounds are eradicated, Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh said yesterday. He made the comment after a short ceremony in which he distributed schoolbags to needy children from his Caroni East constituency. Gopeesingh said government secondary schools will be assigned two safety officers, while schools controlled by denominational boards will have their own management structures in place. He said more student support services will also be available for the new term. Each principal in the 143 secondary schools, he said, will be given hand-held scanners so that students entering and leaving the compound can be scanned. He reminded that items such as camera phones and instruments that may pose a danger to students have been banned from schools.
Gopeesingh said walk-in scanners would be used to detect irregular materials and students would be disciplined. He said all management staff at schools had been advised that the ministry’s policy of a zero tolerance to bullying also remained in effect. The minister said 212 repair and maintenance projects had been started at the beginning of the school vacation in July and all schools that fell under these projects would be opened today. However, he said a number of primary schools had to be rebuilt and the ministry is hoping to house the affected students at community centres but some of these centres were not yet ready. He said this may cause some delay with up to four schools. However, he admitted that work on 16 schools was not yet completed up to yesterday, although they were hoping to complete them in time for the start of classes today. Work on all the unfinished schools will continue after-hours and on weekends, he said.