ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The Antigua & Barbuda Union of Teachers (A&BUT) has offered support to the Ministry of Education in its decision to expel six students from Ottos Comprehensive School.
The students were expelled for their involvement in a bloody cutlass-wielding brawl, which attempts by both teachers and other students failed to arrest.
A&BUT General Secretary Ashworth Azille said he believes the expulsion of the six students, who have also been banned from attending any public secondary school, was necessary to ensure the continued safety of teachers and students.
“When we have these violent acts being perpetrated, one has to look at the preservation certainly of the life of the other students and for the teachers that are working in that environment,” Azille said.
“Some consideration must be given to the rehabilitation of students of that nature. At the moment is that in place?” Azille queried.
“I am not certain that it is. But I am also not prepared to tell you that we will risk the lives of other students and teachers simply for ensuring these individuals do not go out into society and make a menace of themselves.”
The A&BUT general secretary said the union defends the right to an education for young people but of particular concern in this instance was the complete disregard by the students of the authority of the school’s staff.
“The A&BUT views the right to an education as being an inalienable right of any citizen, of any child,” Azille said.
“However that right should not come at the risk of causing grievous harm to others. So we have always supported zero tolerance for grievous criminal acts.
“This situation in fact has proven itself to be a very grievous and heinous act to the extent that students would refuse to accept instructions from teachers and would refuse to accept any effort to quell whatever contentious matter there was,” Azille said.
Azille said while he accepts the expelled students should not be discarded from society, he is of the view that school is not the best place for them.
“If there are students who are so inclined to resort to these criminal acts, then are teachers truly prepared or trained to deal with such acts?” Azille queried.
“Yes you may put them out into society and we may have a different type of problem out there but at the same time is the school prepared to deal with those sorts of situations? And I put it to you that the schools are not prepared.”
The Daily OBSERVER understands that all six students expelled are 16 years or older. According to the Education Act the compulsory school age is between 5 and 16 years.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)