Education Ministry to take action against ‘illegal protest’, threatens police involvement

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Protest-1[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Education Ministry has come out in strong condemnation against the recent upsurge in protest action against several issues in the education system.

The Ministry in a statement said it “denounces the recent actions by some small pockets of persons to disrupt the functioning of schools by illegally protesting and behaving in other unhealthy and unwholesome ways.” The Ministry was referring to the locking of school gates and compounds as a form of protest and the usage of children during school hours as protesters.

The Ministry says it embraces and encourages the principle that children must be seen and heard and Ministry recognises the right of every citizen, young or old, not to be hindered in the enjoyment in his or her freedom of assembly, association and freedom to demonstrate peacefully, that is to say, his or her right to assemble freely, to demonstrate peacefully and to associate with other persons.

The Ministry however reminded that in exercising the above rights it must not interfere with public order and/or hinder the rights and freedoms of other persons.

“If one were truly interested in a solution (as distinct from being seen and/or being politically antagonistic) before one takes to placards, it would be wise to first seek an intervention or solution from the appropriate authority. Best practice dictates that protest be used as a last resort rather than as the first way to bring attention to a problem, whether real or perceived.” The statement added.

It reminded that there are numerous established ways and means existing to allow for healthy engagements in order to address issues that touch and concern schools and school children.

The Ministry said it will not tolerate the locking of school gates as a form or part of protests, the utilisation of school premises as a location of protests, threatening and traumatising teachers, parents and students as a means of forcing their involvement in illegal, unconstitutional activities and the Exploitation of children during school hours by utilising them to hold placards, congregating on the roadways, shouting unwholesome slogans among others.

The Ministry of Education noted that it is working with the Guyana Police Force to ensure that any school compound that is locked will be opened immediately and those responsible for locking same will be dealt with condignly by the law. The Ministry will also treat condignly with parents who keep their children away from instruction to be used at protests.

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