Vryman's Erven students protest arrest of teacher who injured first former

By Daniel DaCosta
Stabroek News
June 15, 2001

Some 50 students of Vryman's Erven Junior Secondary School yesterday morning marched to the New Amsterdam Police Station to protest the arrest of a male teacher involved in the flogging of a first form student which resulted in him suffering a fractured elbow.

The teacher was arrested earlier in the morning by the Police as they continued their investigations into the flogging of the child. The students accompanied by teachers and bearing placards demanded the release of the teacher outside the Coburg Street headquarters. Also present at the demonstration was President of the Guyana Teachers Union [GTU] Bertram Hamilton.

Some of the placards read: "We want our teacher back", "Teachers are not criminals" and "We want our Sir now," as teachers stood monitoring the situation. After a few minutes the teacher was released on bail by the police. According to a senior police source the teacher was released on $10,000 station bail and is to return to the station on Monday.

Following his release the students and their teachers including the headmistress returned to the school a few hundred yards away.

Thirteen-year?old Kellon Felix, a first form student of the school, was flogged with a stick during a Monday morning class. According to Kellon he had moved from his seat to ask a friend to assist him in spelling a word when the teacher hit him twice with the two and one?half feet-long stick. He was left crying in his seat by the teacher and was subsequently taken to the headmistress by another teacher. Later in the day he was taken to the hospital and a private clinic where an X?ray examination revealed he had a fractured right elbow.

The matter was reported to the police by the boy's parents and to the Department of Education in New Amsterdam by the headmistress of the school. Following the protest by the students, several New Amsterdamers expressed their indignation over what they say appeared to be an orchestrated exercise by teachers to use students to put pressure on the police to release their colleague. According to many "students should be in school learning and not on the streets protesting against anything". The flogging of the young boy has also stirred up the ire of many parents in the township who argue that teachers should not use such force on children under their care.

The incident follows the recent flogging of nine year?old Nickesha Garraway of the Lodge?Enterprise Primary School in Region Four which resulted in the child suffering a fractured clavicle. The female teacher involved in that incident was also placed on $10,000 station bail and told to report to the station in the area on a regular basis.

In Grenada a new Education Bill will give parents the power to decide if their children can receive corporal punishment in school. The new law is expected to stipulate that corporal punishment cannot be administered if there is a written objection from parents. At the moment, teachers use their discretion in punishing students.