Parents remove children from schools -- as violence flares in the city

Stabroek News
January 13, 1998

Classes at city schools were disrupted yesterday as many parents and guardians took their children to the safety of their homes during the lunch break and afternoon session, following a riots in sections of the city.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education was under siege by a group of violent protesters who stoned the building damaging the windows and sending staff diving under desks. The ministry was closed after work came to an abrupt halt shortly before noon.

A senior education official, who asked for anonymity, said that while the violent protesters pelted windows with bricks smashing them and threatened to burn the building down, someone in a blue vehicle with a loud speaker pleaded with them "to leave the people alone" and "don't throw objects." But they did not heed the call and continued their acts of violence.

During the morning hours, a number of nursery schools reported that the attendance, which had picked up during last week, had dropped once more.

Primary schools were virtually closed yesterday afternoon as parents hurried to collect their children as reports of the mini-riots spread. The education official said that while parents were allowed to collect their children during the school hours, the children on their own could not leave until after dismissal time at 3 pm. He noted that there was a report from Winfer Gardens School that a group of about six persons entered the school compound and caused a bit of panic, but the situation was defused as their stay there was brief. At secondary schools, too, a number of parents and relatives went themselves to collect their children. The heads of the schools were cooperative.

The rioting followed Chief Justice Desiree Bernard's ruling in the case brought before her by the People's National Congress which sought to quash the declaration of Mrs Janet Jagan as President as null void and ultra vires.