Ministry probes school rape report
Central High initiates guidance programme

By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
April 14, 2000

As one city secondary school introduces a sex education and guidance programme for its teachers, students and their parents, investigations are being conducted into allegations of the rape of a female student in another city school.

Schools Welfare and District Education Officer attached to the Georgetown Education Department, Balram Inderjit, told Stabroek News on Wednesday that investigations were being conducted into allegations of the rape of a third former by a fifth former at a city secondary school. The incident occurred shortly before classes were dismissed last Thursday afternoon.

The incident reportedly took place in a third form classroom on a day when first and second formers were asked to stay at home to accommodate the third, fourth and fifth formers who were writing their end-of-term examinations.

There are conflicting reports and statements have been given by the schoolgirl's friends, the schoolboy's friends and the two students who are at the centre of the allegations.

On Monday, the students involved, teachers and parents met officials of the Georgetown Education Department.

No disciplinary action has been meted out to anyone yet, but the female student has not returned to school since she reported the incident last Friday to the school administration. Some of the students at the school were peeved that a report had been made to a teacher the very afternoon of the incident, but he had told the students who made the report to do so the following day.

Meanwhile Central High School on Smyth Street, in collaboration with the school's Parent Teachers' Association, has introduced the guidance programme for students of the third, fourth and fifth forms with the aim of inculcating in them attitudes of respect for one another.

Some Central High students told this newspaper that the programme, which began earlier this term was very enlightening to them. The discussions are held one day each week for a 45 - to 60-minute period.

Among the resource persons who have held discussions at the school are Head of the Women's Army Corps of the Guyana Defence Force, Lieutenant Colonel Christine King, who examined 'Human Development and Sexuality'; Justice Desmond Burch-Smith, 'Sex and the Law'; Chairman of Lifeline Counselling Services, Dereck Springer, 'AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections'; and Pastor Walter Woolford, 'Sex and Morality'.

Teachers at the school told Stabroek News that the children have been responding well to the programme. The objective of the programme is to help adolescents, many of whom because of varying reasons, are not prepared for adolescent life.

Teachers from a number of city secondary schools have told this newspaper that the problems of sex, gang rape and drug abuse in the schools should no longer be ignored. "It is there," the headteacher of one school said, acknowledging the need for programmes such as the one Central High has introduced.

These incidents are, however, kept under wraps, with the knowledge of parents. When these come to light at the schools they are dealt with as quickly and as quietly as possible often with the female student being transferred or quitting school. The male students do not admit to being involved.

Many of the problems, teachers say, begin at home where children lack the guidance they need. Many bow to peer pressure.

One teacher at Central High said, "we are aware of the problems and have put in place a counter-programme to deal with them." She said, "It is an attempt to alleviate something that is appearing to be mushrooming and which could be deadly. We intend to stop it and/or let students know that if they go the wrong way what the consequences will be."

Central High has a guidance teacher who is a university graduate in behavioural science; the majority of secondary schools are not so fortunate. Teachers have noted the need for social workers in the school system.