Wednesday November 12 was supposed to be another typical school day at the Clendon Mason Memorial Secondary School. Teachers instructing their pupils, students acquiring knowledge; with the two sets of individuals working in tandem to achieve the set goals for the day. Such was not the case; at least not after the lunch break.
At about 1 pm, the customary afternoon classroom sessions that had barely commenced were abruptly halted by the sounds of an altercation. The incident was not the usual student versus student fight but rather student versus teacher.
Information on what exactly transpired is very sketchy at the moment, with teachers and staff of the school being tight-lipped on the matter as it is currently ‘under investigation’. What has been confirmed is that a female teacher had a confrontation with a male student and was later attacked by two other male students. Of the three students involved, two are form fives and the other is in the fourth form. The teacher is said to have sustained blows to her face. Sources have informed the STAR that the situation escalated when the teacher informed the male students that they were not supposed to be in a particular section of the school.
On Thursday November 13 when I visited the school it was teaming with reporters combing for whatever bit of news was available.
The majority of the students on the compound were in their classrooms with a few loitering about but there was no formal instruction given on the day by the teachers who staged a sit out. Very few of them were stationed in the staffroom; most sat in their homerooms with their respective students while others could be seen in small clusters at different points of the school.
Ministry officials visited the school on that day and held a meeting with the principal and teachers as to the way forward. However, teachers, who were adamant about not offering any comments on the issue, appeared irate about their general safety on the compound.
The students involved have since been suspended but teachers of the school, past and present, and requesting anonymity say that this is an opportunity for the school to be made more secure for both students and teachers.
The Clendon Mason Memorial Secondary School is located only a few feet away from the Castries-Vieux Fort Highway and within the Dennery community. The school shares its compound with the Dennery Primary School, located directly opposite. Because of where the school is situated, residents and frequent visitors to the community use the schools’ yard as one of the shortcuts to traverse the Dennery area. This, some say, poses a real danger as unwanted characters have too much access to the school.
For years the school has had no fencing. There is a gate at the eastern end of the compound but, with the schoolyard a customary route for all sorts of persons, this gate remains open. Teachers have pleaded to have the school properly fenced and secured from unwanted intruders, the STAR was told, to no avail. There have also been numerous complaints of angry parents walking into classrooms to confront teachers. There is also the threat of hooligan attacks.
Another significant problem caused by the absence of proper fencing is students’ ability to leave the school compound at any time.“These are some of the issues that the teachers are looking to raise and are hoping will be addressed in light of this latest student-teacher issue,” a source says. The teachers have met with their union and are awaiting a date on which they can meet with the Chief Education officer to air their grievances.
Meanwhile the fate of the alleged perpetrators remains uncertain. Some are hoping that it will not be a case of the young men being thrown out into a society where there is little chance for reform.