Nov 28, 2020 News
– students back at school following strike
Kaieteur News – The Ministry of Education (MOE) will be investigating the recent claims of the alleged bullying and discrimination of students at The Bishops’ High School by their teachers. This was revealed by Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand who spoke on the matter after it was brought to her attention.
Recently, allegations surfaced from both past and current students of the institution on social media, claiming that they would have been bullied by teachers during the course of their school years. The bullying included using derogatory terms while referring to students, sexism, homophobia, harsh punishments and being publicly embarrassed, according to the students. They lamented that these actions were not only verbally, emotionally and mentally abusive to them but they also left a trail of trauma.
In light of the mass complaints made, the students also called for swift action to be taken against these allegations.
Additionally, as a result of the upsurge in allegations online, teachers of the school decided to strike, maintaining that the students were using social media to make derogatory statements about them. They also called for a retraction of the posts and an apology from a particular past student who initiated the complaints online.
Students were reportedly sent home when they showed up for school due to the strike, bringing further attention to the matter. Classes that were being conducted virtually were also suspended.
The matter was then brought to the attention of the MOE, where an investigation is expected to take place.
Manickchand stated that every adult falling under the Education Ministry which includes teachers, headteachers and education officers have a duty in ensuring that they hold the best interest of students. She said that shutting down the school will never be in the best interest of children and the entire ordeal is something that needs to be taken seriously.
The Education Minister contended that the situation warrants an investigation to not only verify what happened but ensure that such does not occur in the future by engaging with and addressing the needs of students who felt like they were victims of the bullying and discrimination.
She further added that the Ministry is also looking to make sure that teachers are not on the receiving end of abuse.
Several students reached out to this publication, stating that while they are pleased that the matter is being investigated, they do not want it to be a one-time conversation then it just “disappears”. “It’s quite normal for situations like these to blow up in the press and then it dies down. We will be looking for actions not just talk. Our administration is usually very determined to ensure that students who speak out are kept silent [so] I am happy it got out this time,” a student told this publication.
Many of them have commended the step by the Ministry to investigate the matter, hoping that it can come to a pleasant resolution.
Roughly three years ago, the administration came under fire when a teacher of the school, Coen Jackson, was alleged to be engaging in sexual activity with female students. A leaked recording had surfaced where the headmistress at the time, Ms. Winifred Ellis, was heard telling female students that they were “very loose” in their dress and behaviour and said that they were encouraging sexual advances with those actions. Ellis also criticised the students for not coming to the teacher’s defence.
This resulted in her being heavily criticised, and persons including past Bishops’ students hosting a protest in front of the school against her actions.
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