St. John’s Antigua- In response to the burning issue of anti-social behaviour, and violence in schools, which made the headlines in 2011, the Ministry of Education will be introducing strict measures to ensure discipline in the school system.
The upcoming school year will see the inclusion of a mandatory boot camp, curfew in schools and a voluntary Cadet Corp.
The series of initiatives were agreed upon at a meeting between the Ministers of National Security and Education, and representatives of the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force and the Royal Police Force.
The mandatory boot camp will be put at the disposal of all principals in the secondary schools to complement suspension of students.
Education Minister Dr Jacqui Quinn Leandro, who made the announcement at a town hall meeting on Tuesday, said the measure is especially geared towards repeat offenders.
“The mandatory boot camp…this is going to be incorporated as a regime of punishment for children who are deviant, children who are badly behaved and children displaying negative and anti-social behaviour.”
The boot camp is different from the voluntary Cadet Corp; this program will be rolled out in all the secondary schools come September 2012.
The programme will be used to boost team spirit, civics and national pride which will lead to the development of the nation, the education minister said.
During the latter part of 2011, chaos and confusion were caused at least two secondary schools on the island. There was a bloody brawl at the Ottos Comprehensive School and a stabbing incident involving students from the Antigua Grammar School.
One of the incidents resulted in the expulsion of eight boys.
The proposals, which were hammered out by an inter-ministerial set up by the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Education, will also see the introduction of a set of guidelines for security officers.
The education minister said security guards operating on the various school plants are unaware of their duties and are answering to supervisors who are not on the compound.
“They are selling, they have their little tray on the school compound, people coming and going and they are not sure, so these guidelines will direct them as to what they should be doing,” Quinn Leandro added.
A 6 pm curfew is also on the cards to remove unsupervised children from the streets.
The education boss said this issue has garnered much debate within the education fraternity. She said further details about this will be forth coming.