Minister with responsibility for Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Karl Samuda, has outlined measures to bolster safety and security in schools.

Speaking at a media briefing at the Ministry’s offices in Kingston on February 13, Mr. Samuda said the interventions include the provision of  400 safety and security support officers for institutions, through the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme, adding that they will be deployed mainly to primary schools.

“To date, 184 have been placed, and the others are to be in place by the end of February,” the Minister noted.

Meanwhile, Mr. Samuda said safety and security officers are being recruited for each of the Ministry’s six Regions.

He further advised that two senior Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) officers are being sought for assignment at the Ministry to provide guidance “on our approach to safety and security”, while pointing out that “we are expecting approval from the Police Commissioner’s Office” in that regard.

The Minister also indicated that there are currently 154 school resource officers posted at 221 schools, and that the possibility of increasing the number is being explored.

Mr. Samuda said the placement of personnel is being complemented with the buildout of safety infrastructure.

These, he outlined, include the provision of 1,000 handheld metal detectors to all high schools; and the acquisition of 30 overhead metal detectors, 28 of which have been installed, with the remaining two expected to be in place by the end of February.

Mr. Samuda also advised that an additional $5 million is required to provide adequate perimeter security fencing for schools, 20 of which have already been identified to benefit under the Ministry’s infrastructure programme during 2020/21.

Meanwhile, conflict and behaviour management and motivational sessions, which Mr. Samuda said are pivotal in supporting the other interventions, are to be rolled out in schools islandwide, beginning April.

The Minister noted that the Ministry has been working closely with the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, “to see how best we can implement their recommendations” regarding safety and security in schools.