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By Latrishka Thomas-Teachers are holding the government hostage over security issues at schools in Antigua and Barbuda.
In a letter dated September 30, the Antigua and Barbuda Teachers Union of Teachers (A&BUT) wrote to the Director of Education voicing their frustration over the spate of thefts, break-ins and vandalism that have been taking place at schools around the country.
They threatened to take “affirmative action if the appropriate interventions are not instituted immediately.”
Well, the authorities quickly organised a meeting with the Union on Monday and a decision was taken to close all public schools today to facilitate another meeting.
According to reports, at the end of the meeting, the government was given until Friday to make schools more secure.
The agitated educators will take industrial action on Monday if they still do not feel safe.
That means that thousands of children will be left out in the dust and parents who work during the day will be forced to find alternative means of occupying their children.
Furthermore, if the issue is not rectified soonest, students will be behind in the curriculum.
Sources say a proposal was put forward called ‘Static Sentry” where defense force and police officers will work together to patrol high-risk schools.
This will be done just until the CCTV cameras and other security equipment arrive and are installed in the 37 state-run schools.
The Cabinet would have announced plans to install ‘strong-rooms’ similar to bank vaults, where the most valuable items can be stored at night.
Intruders tend to rummage through principals’ desks, scattering documents and hampering productivity, in addition to stealing costly items.
In fact, last month, thieves made off with keys to the premises of one secondary school causing headaches for the institution’s staff.
The Union says that between September 5 and 28 alone, there were at least seven incidents of burglary and or vandalism in both primary and secondary schools and this have left a cloud of fear, anxiety and frustration on the victims. (Caribbean Loop)