TTUTA Tobago Officer Bradon Roberts is concerned about the underlying issues that may have led to the alleged threats being made by a 17-year-old student at the Pentecostal Light and Life Foundation High School in Scarborough.
Reports said the fifth-form student had threatened to return with a gun to “shoot up the school” after a confrontation earlier this week.
Speaking with Newsday on Thursday, Roberts said, while details were still unclear, there needed to be a system to treat with underlying issues.
“For far too long, we are on the surface issues and caught up in those surface things seeking to put a plaster on it.
“It is outrageous what has developed, but we need to have a position where we are keeping our angels, angels.
“When our students are not captivated by what our education system is offering, then of course they deviate into these violent thoughts and the zesser stuff and the unproductive things that seem to be more entertaining than what education offers.”
He said authorities should not wait until members of society, including students, became frustrated “and then we’re playing police and thief trying to fix the surface issue.”
Roberts said, while the current matter should be dealt with seriously so that people didn’t believe that they could easily get away with such behaviour, the real issue must be on keeping the attention of the students on education and on learning.
“I don’t believe that this student just transformed to this particular status overnight or with something that triggered him in the exam room or so.”
Moral education, he said, should not just be up to a teacher or a ten-minute session before class.
“Schools need to have goals and objectives – particular projects that children are working towards where their attention is needed towards filling their objective.
“So it needs to be more than just the raw academics and maths and maths time or English and English time and then we have co-curricular activities at that specific time. We need to have projects where all these items are intertwined, and students are more captivated in the offering.”
The syllabus, he said, is very robust and a lot of the requirements are putting a strain on teachers to get through the curriculum and students are also struggling to cope. He said that situation could cause the frustration that brought about the incident at the school.
As a result, he said the THA Division of Education, Research and Technology needs to act fast on this and have the proper investigations and the guidance.
Contacted for comment, Assistant Secretary in the division, Orlando Kerr said “the matter is being investigated by the division.
“We are looking into it to see if there is any merit to what was said.”
Further questioned on the student being debarred from writing CSEC, he said he was uncertain of the details.
“Once you are posing a threat, they would not allow you on the compound. By virtue of that, and exams are taking place on the compound, then you wouldn’t be able to do the subject.
“I don’t know that there was any official thing debarring him from doing CSEC, but once you threaten people – whether it’s a teacher, student or parent – there are certain protocols that must take place.”