One day after alleged members of a gang invaded the Harmony Secondary School in Linden and injured a teacher, teachers and students of the school took to the street to voice their concerns and call for better security, while denouncing gang violence in schools.
News Source understands that following an altercation between two students on Monday which resulted in one being hospitalized, a group of young men, who were armed with knives, pieces of wood and scissors, invaded the secondary school located on Burnham Drive in Wismar, and launched a harrowing attack on students and teachers.
A teacher was reportedly injured, and at least one student was robbed of his money as the gang searched the school for one of the two students, who was involved in the alteration.
The Police and the Department of Education were immediately called in, and the matter is currently engaging the attention of the Guyana Police Force and the Ministry of Education.
Today the students said “enough is enough!”
Backed by their teachers, parents and a number of residents, the students called on the Ministry of Education to set up a Welfare Office at the school and improve its security.
Secretary of the Guyana Teachers’ Union, Upper Demerara Branch, Shonell James bemoaned the situation.
“It is a very sad situation at this time. We are all educators, and it could happen to anyone, so we need to have better security when it comes to protecting our school environment,” the Secretary said.
Former Member of Parliament and General Council Representative for the Union’s Upper Demerara Branch, Vanessa Kissoon, who joined the protest in solidarity, condemned the attacked.
It was explained that following the altercation between the two students, the “aggressor” was asked to return to the school with his parents, but instead he returned with a gang.
“One of the students, he was asked to go and bring his parents, the aggressor as was reported, and he returned with gang members. So, the teachers tried to get the other student to safety but when they recognized that the young man was going to be sent out in a car, they ran in the school through the front gate,” Miss Kissoon explained.
During a live broadcast on Facebook, she explained further that a female teacher was injured while trying to safeguard her students.
“Female teachers used their bodies to try to keep the doors locked. The doors are not properly secured and the gang members kicked the door down, and one teacher got kicked in her face,” Miss Kissoon explained. The teacher rushed to a nearby hospital for medical attention.
The Region 10 Regional Education Officer (REDO), while condemning the act, said the Education Ministry will not allow gangs to take over the school system.
“We are in solidarity with you because we have recognized that our students who have left our schools, and even some of those who are still part of our school system is trying to take over. And we can no longer stand and allow them to take over,” Ms Mathews told the students and teachers gathered outside the school.
The REDO said while the majority of the teachers and students are safe, there is still a student who remains hospitalized. She called on persons with information on the gang members to come forward.
“What is disappointing is that the students who are involved and the students who know these boys that entered this building yesterday are not saying anything. We were at the station late last night and we still cannot get names…students, teachers if you know the names of the boys who went into the building yesterday, please give us the names, the police need the names,” she said.
The REDO hinted at the need to reintroduce corporal punishment in schools. “Children now, they have so much rights, we can’t correct them as we should. I listened to police yesterday…they are in support of us but their hands are tied because of the policies and the regulations that are set for these learners,” she said.
The Regional Police Commander Hugh Winter told News Source that the matter remains under investigation, but was keen on noting that the Education Ministry is equally involved. He confirmed that a teacher was injured during the invasion.