Still no word from ministry on child's broken-arm probe
Stabroek News
March 14, 2004

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There has been no word from the Ministry of Education in relation to the allegation that an eight-year-old child's arm was broken last November when he was beaten by his class teacher with a piece of wood from a broken chair.

Several attempts by this newspaper to get a comment from the Education Ministry have proved futile. Some officials were not available and others, when contacted, said they were not the ones to comment on the issue.

Joel Punch, a student of New Comenius Primary School in Anira Street, Queenstown, reportedly had his arm broken when he was beaten by his class teacher because he had reportedly chased a classmate, who had his pencil, around the school yard.

The child's grandmother, Doreen McPherson had complained to this newspaper about what appeared to be foot dragging by the ministry on the issue.

She had also complained about the callous treatment she received from an official at the Schools' Welfare Department when she had cause to visit the office last week Friday on the request of the official. The teacher who reportedly inflicted the corporal punishment is currently on maternity leave.

When Stabroek News had contacted the office of the Chief Education Officer (CEO), Ed Caesar, he was not in office. A call to the minister's office saw the reporter being directed by Dr Henry Jeffrey's secretary to the office of the Deputy CEO, Georgetown, Joseph Gilgeous. After several attempts Stabroek News contacted Gilgeous and while he said he was aware of the matter he did not know the status of the investigation. He directed the newspaper to Yvonne Arthur, director of the Schools' Welfare Department, whom he said was heading the investigation. He also said the welfare official denied they had treated McPherson in an unprofessional manner.

Stabroek News spoke to Arthur on the telephone and she informed that the reporter should visit her office. However, when a call was placed to her office on Friday, before the visit, Arthur said she has been further advised that the reporter should speak to Caesar, who was not in his office at the time and was not expected for the rest of the day.