Education Minister engages Linden Foundation students and teachers

–Long-term counselling and support put in place

DPI, Guyana, Friday, January 24, 2020

Minister of Education, Hon. Dr. Nicolette Henry says there must be zero tolerance for bullyism and children attacking others in the wake of Thursday’s stabbing incident in Linden.

Dr. Henry led a  team of technical and support staff to the mining town on Friday, where she visited the 15-year-old Linden Foundation Secondary School (LFSS) student who was stabbed with a knife in the back by another student.

The young woman is a patient at the Linden Hospital Complex.

During a visit to the school, Dr. Henry described Thursday’s incident as unfortunate and avoidable. She implored the students to utilise the resources available to them to deal with their conflicts in healthier ways.

“There can be no tolerance in this country for any child to believe that it is okay to bully, attack or threaten another child,” she added.

The Education minister assured the teachers, parents and students that her ministry’s resources were at their disposal.

The Department of Education has call-in hotlines that connect students to welfare and counselling officers at 223-6622, and at 444-1639. Students were encouraged to call the numbers and have their frustrations addressed without resorting to violence.

Thursday’s incident came days after another altercation at the Linden Technical Institute. During her visit to that institution, Minister Henry charged the students and teachers to be vigilant and report all instances of weapon possession so that the interpersonal violence that plagues schools in the Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice region could be stopped.

Explaining the adage “It takes a village”, Minister Henry said that reforming behaviour and enhancing soft skills in schools requires all hands on deck, that includes, every parent, every teacher and the communities at large. “We are here to support you,” she underscored.

The Schools’ Welfare Department also visited both schools with the ministry’s Psychosocial Mobile Unit to provide long-term mobile counselling services for the students.

Schools’ Welfare Officer Gillian Vyphuis, delivered an emotional charge to the students, urging them to be responsible. “Your parents are making sacrifices to send you to school! Schools should be a safe place,” she said.

The students were also engaged by Guidance and Counselling Officer Wendy Collins who taught them anger management exercises and techniques.

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