No space for sexual offences in schools – Manickchand to Education Officers
Education Minister Priya Manickchand has alerted Education Officers within the country that sexual offences at schools will not be tolerated.
On Tuesday, it was pointed out that officers are tasked with responding immediately to such reports and failure to do so will result in retribution.
“Education Officers have been alerted to the fact that there is no space for tolerance, whether deliberate or inadvertent, for sex offences in schools or of school children. Any Education Officer who receives a complaint of such nature must immediately report same to the Deputy Chief Education Officer (admin). Failure to make said report will result in condign action. Teachers and school staff should also take note,” the Minister shared on her page.
This announcement was made just after social media reports highlighted instances at a secondary school within the confines of Georgetown, where female students complained of inappropriate behaviour from a male teacher.
In February, the trial of former Bishops’ High School teacher Coen Jackson, 43, who was charged with engaging in sexual activity with one of his female students, commenced before Demerara High Court Judge Priya Sewnarine-Beharry and a 12-person mixed jury.
The particulars of those charges he faced stated that, on four occasions between February, March, April, and May of 2011, Jackson engaged in sexual activity with a child under the age of 16 by abusing a position of trust.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charges, and is being represented by Attorneys-at-Law Nigel Hughes and Jerome Khan, while the case for the prosecution is being led by State Counsel Nafeeza Baig, in association with State Counsels Muntaz Ali and Latifah Elliot.
Allegations of Jackson preying on his students and grooming them in preparation for sexual relationships surfaced in 2017. An official complaint was later made at the Education Ministry, and the matter was handed over to the Police for probing.
The Police instituted charges against Jackson in March 2018. Following a paper committal two months later, he was committed to stand trial for the offence after a city Magistrate ruled that a prima facie case had been made out against him.
Jackson remains on $300,000 bail pending the hearing and determination of this trial.
A chilling discovery of 2020 statistics by the Child Care and Protection Agency found that more than 3000 children in Guyana faced some type of abuse, predominantly sexual abuse for and neglect for boys. (G12)