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Samuda says social media exaggerating level of violence in schools

Karl Samuda
 
Karl Samuda, minister with responsibility for education, is blaming social media for what he says is an exaggeration of the level of violence in schools.
 
In recent weeks, there have been several videos and reports of  violent incidents perpetrated by students against each other and school staff, including teachers.
 
The incidents have led to calls for the Education Ministry to take decisive action to fix the problems.
 
However, Mr. Samuda is unconvinced the situation is as bad as it seems. 
 
"Social media has made the problem look as if it is overwhelming us. The fact is it's not. I just left Denbigh (High) today, where I spoke at the Jamaica Day. They don't have any occurrences of this kind. The students are well behaved...a wonderful and refreshing and healthy environment is what I engaged in today. So it is not as widescale," he lamented. 
 
Mr. Samuda said the Education Ministry's response cannot be driven by extreme incidents as it is unfair to teachers and students "who are fully engaged with each other and are very productive in assisting the educational process in a very meaningful way." 
 
The minister said there is no short-term solution to violence in schools.
 
He said the Ministry of Education is limited in relation to resources to put in fences and other security infrastructure. However, he noted that these would still not solve the problem. 
 
"You could put all the fences around that you want, you could lock up every classroom... If you don't change the attitude of some children and the attitude of some teachers, and if you don't introduce into the mix a sense of balance, appreciation for rules, regulation, authority; if you don't engage the teachers to let them understand that there is need at times to exercise great patience and understanding - all these things are complex issues that must be sorted out at the level of highly trained professionals," he suggested.    
 
Mr. Samuda maintained that drastic action - such as greatly increasing the presence of police officers on school compounds or expelling and suspending students - is not needed as these reactions "only create greater problems down the road." Instead, he said what is needed is balance. 
 
Mr. Samuda said a tripartite committee involving parents, teachers and students is to be set up to look into in the issue.
 


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