OBSERVER: MINISTER of Education, Youth and Information Senator Ruel Reid indicated yesterday that the Government is currently seeking to procure closed circuit television (CCTV) systems for secondary schools.

 

Senator Reid made the statement yesterday in response to questions from the press at the post-Cabinet briefing at Jamaica House regarding reports of indiscipline at Anchovy High School, St James, which resulted in the dean of discipline being beaten and injured by a group of female students.

 

“We are currently looking at procuring such a capability. Overall, that is what our medium- to long-term programme is going to be in regards to aiding our school administrators to better manage the issue of safety and discipline in the schools,” he said.

 

Reid first made reference to Government's consideration of utilising the technology in maintaining discipline in the schools during the launch of the National Association of Deans of Discipline in Montego Bay in July.

 

He said then that the Government would be going for the highest grade technology with analytical and artificial intelligence capabilities to assist the schools in identifying weapons brought on the campuses, as well as students who are high-risk.

 

He noted that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has partnered with his ministry by providing grant funding of US$3 million for a Safety and Security in Schools Project, which would include procuring CCTV technology.

 

He said that USAID would provide the funds over two years, and that the National Education Trust would act as coordinator for the project. The prime objective of the initiative is to implement measures to transform schools and their immediate surroundings into safe zones.

 

But Reid said yesterday that his ministry had not received any direct request from Anchovy High for increased security, or whether the reported incident had anything to do with the safety and security of the school.

 

He said that it appeared to be an issue of self-discipline where the students were concerned, and that there was already a remedy to deal with that. He pointed out that he could not see how the safety and security of the school could arise in that situation.

 

However, he said that if the school needed additional support for its security, the ministry would provide it.

 

”The CCTV camera network is needed right across the educational system for accurate surveillance of the schools, and we are currently looking at procuring that capability,” he said.

 

Classes at the school's main campus resumed yesterday, following Tuesday's suspension, which was triggered by the beating of the dean of discipline by a group of female students.

 

The school board was forced to suspend classes for 1,200 students in grades 9-11, following a number of violent events among the female students on the school grounds, during their lunch break on Monday.

 

A video of the incident, involving the beating of the dean of discipline, went viral on social media hours after the fracas.

 

— Balford Henry