The growing number of gangs in schools countrywide continues to be an issue for the Ministry of Education. This is according to Minister Priya Manickchand, who expressed her concern recently during a media briefing.
The Minister, in response to a question on the issue of gangs in schools, said that they have developed a number of strategies to deal with the issue while acknowledging the fact that more needs to be done.
In the near future, the Minister said, 15 persons drawn from her Ministry, the Ministry of Human Services, the Child Care and Protection Agency and two welfare officers will be better equipped to deal with such issues. According to the Minister the 15 persons will be sent to do a Masters’ programme at the Leslie University in the United States.
Minister Manickchand said that the programme is aimed at dealing with children and the social issues they face as teenagers.
Chief Education Officer, Olato Sam, said that they have a number of welfare officers who operate in schools countrywide, and as guidance counselors.
He however noted that there is much more to be done since there is an issue with limited human resources. Sam said that over and over the Ministry has advertised for welfare officers but they have never been able to reach what is required of them.
“We have said publicly that we need professionals to help us deal with these issues while we have some officers and teachers who are trained to deal with some of these issues we need additional persons,” Sam said.
Further, Sam pointed out that the issues of gangs in school is not only limited to Guyana and that the Ministry has been in consultations with other agencies with the aim of combating the issue. “We have been working with a number of schools, teaching children how to deal with abuse and our teachers on how to recognize it. We also have systems in place for social workers, welfare officers and parents.”
There continues to be the issues of late detection among abused children who often act out. In some cases there is a track record which needs to be looked at, Sam said.
He added that the issue of awareness has been going well for the Ministry as they have seen greater involvement from the police and other stakeholders.
Speaking on the issue of poor attendance because of poor conditions at home, Sam said that the Ministry is looking at the possibility of extending its current school feeding programme even though there are limited resources.
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