In the past week, there were at least two reported instances of gang violence at secondary schools in Georgetown, and Education Minister Priya Manickchand says the increase in this kind of behaviour is ‘no surprise.’
Manickchand, who was a guest on the talk show Globespan 24x7 with the topic ‘The Modernization and Improvement of Guyana’s Educational System,’ attributed this spike to the Covid-19 ‘lockdown’.
The lockdown is referred to as the time that students were not in school as a result of the covid 19 pandemic.
She explained “some of where we are seeing bad behaviour you would be surprised to see first formers but I’m not surprised because what you did was left a ten year old to grow up by themselves without supervision, without guidance. Their parents were out working, there was no teacher to pull you online and then we just threw them back in the classroom and expected everything to be normal.”
To this end she posited that the plan is to introduce a concentrated and thorough curriculum to cover topics about virtues and socially acceptable behaviour.
“We actually need to in a concentrated very organised almost through a curriculum teach back somethings that kids ought to have known in those two years from coming to school, don’t walk up to somebody, don’t call people names, basic things that you want correction for if you were in school for the last two years.”
The subject minister further highlighted that several stakeholders’ participation would be necessary to address this issue.
Already, the Education Ministry has gotten the Guyana Police Force (GPF) on board to conduct security bag checks on students upon entry to schools, and Manickchand assured that this would not be a one-off activity. They are also collaborating with religious leaders to engage students in upholding their moral values.
Only last week, teachers at the Lodge Secondary School walked out citing security concerns after being threatened and robbed by students who were part of a gang. It was also reported that several students were found in possession of weapons.