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Trinidad & Tobago: Security concerns lead to protests

Members of EI affiliate the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) are being supported by parents in their protest over security concerns at schools.

Teachers at the Aranjuez Government Primary School refused to work for one day last week and are demanding that additional security guards be posted at the school, and that construction of a perimeter wall on the school compound be started. The action comes after several threatening incidents over a six-month period. The latest occurred on March 14, when a member of the Student Support Services was robbed by an intruder. The matter was reported to the Barataria police. The teachers subsequently met with TTUTA President Clyde Permell and a decision was taken not to teach, but instead remain in the staffroom, where the teachers felt they would be safe by staying together. Vice-president of the school’s Parent Teacher Association Leona Joseph said the students will not return to school unless teachers’ demands are met. She said the staff of 17 was 99 percent female and on most occasions, the lone security guard posted at the school, is a woman, "with the only weapon being her mouth." Aranjuez Government Primary School is not the only school to suffer security woes – The TTUTA have condemned the decision of the police to fire a shot at an escapee who ran through the yard of the St. Margaret’s Government Primary School. The man, who was being arrested on drug trafficking charges, broke away from police and ran through the school yard, where scores of children were playing. The police are said to have fired a shot in their bid to recapture the man, causing panic among students and staff. President of T.T.U.T.A., Clyde Permell says the police acted irresponsibly and other methods should have been used. Ministry officials later sent counsellors to the school in a bid to comfort teachers and students.